Home Remedies for a Bartholin's Cyst
Caring for a Bartholin's cyst does not need to be an arduous or painful process. Learning to recognize your early indicators is important and will aid you more than anything else on your road to recovery. It is important to understand that in some instances, cysts can form with little to no warning—such as while you're asleep—and are difficult to avoid. Once you learn to recognize potential indicators, you will be able to take preventative and recuperative measures.
Early Symptoms of a Bartholin's Cyst
- Discomfort, swelling, and/or redness of the vulva and labia
- Vaginal dryness that lasts for two days or more
- Infrequent burning, tingling, twitching, or in some cases a feeling similar to a light "electrical" shock half an inch down from the urethra at either the 8 or 4 o'clock positions (corresponding with the gland's opening)
- Discolored vaginal discharge (although this can happen for other reasons and is not always indicative of a cyst or problem with the Bartholin's gland)
- Small pea to pinto bean sized lump approximately half an inch below skin surface that is not painful, just annoying (during the early stage of cyst)
What to Do When You Know You're Developing a Cyst
- Immediately begin taking preventative measures to halt the cyst's progression. There are a plethora of over-the-counter products that will help.
- Drink a lot of water. This is the most important thing you could possibly do because water helps the body flush things out.
- Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, you should quit for your own sake, but at the very least you should reduce tobacco use as much as possible. Smoking elevates blood pressure which will exasperate your condition.
- Avoid dairy products.
- Take sitz baths 4–5 times daily for 10–15 minutes each time. Submerging the pelvic floor in generously warm water supplemented with either Epsom salt or sea salt (at the very least) will help break up the blockage that your gland has developed.
Natural Remedies and Helpful Products
There are many products that you should keep in your arsenal to help expedite healing, especially herbs in loose leaf form.
- Cranberry juice: Dilute with water and drink to stay hydrated while lowering bacteria levels in your urine.
- Epsom salt: Please note that this agent works as a mild laxative, even in a sitz bath, so be careful not to overdo it. Use approximately 1 tbsp per 5-gallon bath.
- Sea salt: In lieu of Epsom salt, you can also use table salt (non-iodized) for its healing, antiseptic properties with great results.
- Chamomile: You can find dried leaves and flowers in loose form at any herb shop or tea shop. This plant is anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory.
- Comfrey: This leaf contains allantoin which encourages and accelerates healing when applied to the skin.
- Calendula: Apply to the skin to reduce pain.
- Marshmallow root: This helps control bacterial infections and inflammation and increases immunity at a cellular level.
- Yarrow: This astringent is antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory among many, many other things and should not be used more than two times a week as it can make individuals more sensitive to sunlight (although this usually only occurs in very high doses when consumed orally).
- Perineal wash bottle: Use after urination to cleanse irritated tissue and avoid too much abrasion while wiping (although baby wipes that are fragrance-free, chlorine-free, and cotton-based work well too).
- Heating and cooling pads: Cooling pads should never be made too cold since it will cause the tissue to contract, which is the opposite of what you want, but the cold sure reduces pain. Apply for five minutes every few hours but no longer! Apply heat to help break the blockage up. Use for 15 minutes every few hours. It's helpful to find dual action pads that you can safely toss into the microwave for heat and the freezer for cold.
- Chair cushion: Get one that suspends the pelvic floor without causing tension on the surrounding tissue. Do not use a donut! They pull the skin tight, and that is bad for cysts! Look for the IC-Network's cushion called the "Bladder and Prostate Friendly Chair Cushion." It works very well to suspend the pelvis while preventing the traditional stretching and pulling of surrounding skin, and it's relatively cheap.
Bath Remedy for a Bartholin's Cyst
- Use Epsom salt and herbs such as the ones listed above. Herbs can be added in any combination and can be purchased at tea shops or natural food markets. Place the herbs of your choice into a muslin drawstring bag and add to your bath. If you don't have a muslin drawstring, you can also use an empty tea bag or a three-ply cheesecloth. Center the herbs in the middle and use a rubber band to seal the bundle shut. Salt should be added directly to the water.
- Soak for 10–15 minutes and repeat 4–5 times a day for 3 days.
- Water temperature should be between 98–105 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use your hands to swirl the water and create a current that will aid in ensuring that the beneficial additives of your bath come into contact with the cyst.
Recommended Ratios for an Effective Bath
Full: water level at chest
Half: water level at navel
Low (sitz): water level at hips
Makeshift 5 gallon bucket
Traditional sitz bath basin
What If You Don't Have a Bathtub or Basin?
If you only have a shower stall, rest assured you can still do this. You will need:
- a 5-gallon bucket (food grade is better, or brand new at least)
- an extendable shower nozzle (it does not need to be fancy, you can get an effective one for $20.00 at any hardware store)
- a large towel
Fill the bucket with generously warm water and use the towel to line the rim so that you can sit comfortably on the bucket for at least 10 minutes.
Keep Track of Your Flare-ups
Tracking your symptoms, severity, and duration will help you understand more about your body and this painful condition. Even if you only have one to two incidents a year, it is still important to track those periods. Bear in mind that things like pain intensity, duration, etc., are only part of what you need to monitor flare-ups. Stress and emotional upset may play a role in the development of a cyst as well. Stress weakens your body and stages the scene for possible hormonal fluctuation. Additionally, menstruation may also provide hormonal imbalance and contribute to the development of cysts in the same way. The things you eat are also important to track. Dairy products increase mucous production in your body and could possibly be a player in this condition.