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Bartholin Glands will Sometimes say “Hello”

As stated before, most women go their entire lives without ever realizing that there are two little glands in that area. However the Bartholin Gland can rear its ugly face and make its presence well known. Although unusual, the Bartholin Gland can become irritated or infected, causing extreme swelling and discomfort. Typically if the gland(s) become inflamed and form a cyst, the cyst is not painful, only uncomfortable and more of an annoyance, but often time a cyst leads to infection and the area will become even more inflamed, the surrounding areas will be tender, warm and may throb any firm pressure applied is sure to add to ones discomfort making almost impossible for one to sit down. When this happens, the gland is then referred to as a Bartholin Cyst that has abscessed.

Bartholin Abscess: a Painful experience

If you have ever had the unfortunate chance to experience one of these buggers, then you know all to well just how bothersome and debilitating they can be. In most cases, only one gland is affected at a time, and for some unknown reason can bounce back and forth between glands (For example, the left one is abscessed then heals, a little while later the right one forms a cyst and abscesses). The way Bartholin Cysts form are when for some reason the duct exiting the gland become blocked causing fluid to accumulate, swell and form a cyst. A Bartholin Cyst can lead to an abscess when a formed cyst becomes infected. An infection can occur for multiple reasons such as : bacterial infections, sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia and gonorrhea, and even some bacteria’s found in the intestines like E. Coli and it is very common for these abscesses to have one or more of these causing factors.

Symptoms Simplified (Cyst):

·         Swelling of Labia and surrounding tissue

·         Not very much pain associated with it (unless it is large)

Symptoms Simplified (Abscess):

·         Significant pain near labia and vaginal opening

·         Tender to the touch

·         Swollen

·         Reddish skin covering affected area

·         Inability to find any comfy spot

Is it time for the Doctor?

If at any point, you feel that the gland is continuing to swell and grow, and shows no sign of improvement within 3-4 days, then it’s time to go see your doctor or gynecologist. If a lump developed and begins to be painful, this is indicative of an abscess and chances are it will NOT go away on its own, it is infection-infections get worse without medical intervention and the lump needs to be drained. Especially if you are experiences other symptoms as well such as: fever, vomiting, abnormally colored vaginal discharge or abdominal pain (the latter is not a normal symptom) it time to go to the doctor or ER. If you are experiencing extreme pain, and cannot sit down or wear your normal pants get to the doctor immediately.

What’s Going to Happen at the Doctors?

There is no testing to confirm a Bartholin cyst or abscess; it is simply diagnosed by a physician through examination. In many cases, especially if the issue is a returning or repeating one, the doctor may collect a culture to determine a bacterial strain so that the best medication can be prescribed and you will be checked for related STD’s such as gonorrhea and Chlamydia. The culture is typically collected from the drainage of the cyst or abscess and only sometimes the cervix, test results are usually back within 48 hrs. When you to the doctor, you will depending on the severity and the difference between cyst and abscess be given pain killers like Hydrocordone or Morphine. Once the pain killers have kicked in a local anesthetic is applied to the affected area, and the doctor will make an incision. The relief is immediate; all the pressure simply goes away. The doctor will then, either pack the gland with a special gauze or use a balloon catheter. As a special note, if it has been decided that the Bartholin gland needs to be lanced, local anesthetics do not work well in areas where there is inflamed tissue, so be sure, if you are in pain to discuss your options for pain relief prior to surgery–you can be sedated if necessary–all you need to do is ask.


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