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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Sarah Farnam on November 12, 2018:
Eating clean, rest and lowering stress worked for me!!
I had a cyst about the size of a golf ball last month. This was my second. The first one I got infected and I went to a gyno and he said it was so bad that he couldn't drain in the office. He sent me home with antibiotics, pain killers and instructions to stay in an Epsom salt bath as much as possible. If that didn't work he recommended surgery. The pain killers did not touch the pain I was in. So I took more and got very ill from the meds. That night the cyst burst and I was back to normal very fast. No surgery. Phew!
The doc said I would probably get them all the time and to be prepared. I haven't, thank God. But over five years later I noticed one all of a sudden. Not infected and no pain whatsoever but getting larger by the day. I did so much research and tried every home remedy I could find. I eventually I burned my skin with tea tree oil and then it started to really hurt the skin only. I wore pads all the time in case it burst. I was constantly applying something to the area. Then one day I read about someone who got relief from changing her diet. I decided to stop wearing liners or pads, stop applying anything to the area, stop taking all enzymes and cell salts, and to eat as clean as humanly possible. Pretty much doing a Paleo diet, no dairy at all. Drinking lots of water and getting lots of sleep. Even taking power naps.I am shocked that after about 10 days of this, it is almost gone! receded on its own. No bursting. And, may I add that I remained sexually active as I am in a loving relationship and he was not deterred when I explained what it was.
I hope this helps someone else. These cysts can be so life-interrupting, painful and embarrassing. Peace to you...
Noladarlin on March 11, 2017:
So I had my first BC on the left labia in 1998. It became an abscess which I had emergency surgery to remove. Since then, I have had a nearly 20 year journey. A couple of years after the initial occurrence, I got another. I didn't have insurance at the time. I went to a clinic where I received a Word Catheter. It was worse than the surgery! Avoid it at all cost because they don't work, at least it didn't for me. For the next several years, I got AT LEAST 2 a year at times on both sides which was excruciating. I got very good at sensing one was coming and would immediately begin doing Sitz baths. Often they would resolve without rupturing. I can't stress the importance of paying attention and starting Sitz Baths before you need to see a doctor. They work. After a while, they were less and less and in 2012, I stopped getting them. I still could feel something in the area but it didn't swell nor did I experience pain. I had 5 glorious years without an occurrence! About a week ago, it came back. When it continued to swell, I had to go buy another Sitz Bath but I didn't do the treatment aggressively. So today I've started the push. (It's a Saturday). I do a 30 minute bath four times a day. If the past is an indicator, it should either go down or rupture by Monday. I'll keep you posted.
BCs can be painful but thankfully they are more of an annoyance than anything. When you feel one coming, you can't ignore it. You have to treat it aggressively if you want it to go away without a doctor visit. They are time consuming but once it's flared up the Sitz baths work best of all. I've tried any and everything else but the baths work every time.
Lorna Dane Giles on March 06, 2017:
So I had a bartholin cyst for about a month or so until it got very painful and uncomfortable, which only lasted a couple days before it popped. This has happened to me once before and unfortunately, there is not a lot of information on this issue on the internet. All I am wondering, is it normal to have a discharge type fluid come out of the vaginal region once it has ruptured? I'm assuming that this is the fluid that was in the cyst. blocking my gland. I didn't have surgery or do anything to it. Just like the time before, it ruptured on it's own. I'm just wondering if the discharge is a normal thing? I'm seeing my OB, but my appointment isn't until next month (we all know how OBGYN's can be), so if anyone could please tell me if they've had this experience or know anything about it, that would be amazing. Thank you!
Rica on January 30, 2017:
Hi I'm a teenager um I have a batholin cyst and its very painful I can't sit up or walk and I can only lay down on one side is there any treatment for this besides draining it cause I'm really scared that it would be more painful I don't know what to do I'm on the verge of crying every single minute cause it's so painful please help me
Tiffany on September 24, 2016:
Hey everyone! Sorry to see so many women suffering from these. I had my first bartholin gland cyst in 2014. It started out grape size when I was pregnant. It became infected and I had to have it landed and drained. It was horrible. The doctor then put in what is called a wick. Looked like a thinker can clean wick. I then was put on strong antibiotics and had to pull the wick out myself 2 days later. Horrible pain. But after that I was so much better. No flare ups at all until this past week. It is the size of one of those colossal olives. It isn't painful but it aches sometimes. Right now I am doing sitz baths with epsom salt and tea tree oil. I am also using muslin cloth with a blood root and witch hazel paste which is applied directly the cyst. Last night I did an epsom salt pack. Only have had it 3-4 days so hopefully these methods will help it drain naturally. I am also taking serrapeptase 2 times a day on an empty stomach. It isn't infected and let time got infected within two day of getting this big. (It ended up being the size of a tangerine when it was drained) Good luck and God bless to those suffering from these. Horrible little boogers to deal with.
Diane on August 24, 2016:
had antibiotics for a week pain now appears in one place it is a stabbing burning pain and pain is bad go told me to wait a week after finishing antibiotics which will be next Wednesday before going back to gp does this seem right
gepeTooRs on April 16, 2016:
Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly helpful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to offer something back and help others such as you aided me.
Dotty on February 03, 2016:
My name is dotty Recently I've developed a bartholin cyst. I went to the hospital and there they cut and drained it gave me medication told me to come back in 2 days. I did go back in 2 days and the area is hard as a rock they told me to take 4-5 sitz baths a day and to come back in a week. what i want to know is how long is it going to be hard, how long am i going to be in pain and how long will it take to heal.
Niknax on September 02, 2015:
Okay finally update. It finally burst as soon as I got to the doctors. But I feel so much Better!!
Lnoelle on September 02, 2015:
Just to be clear, if your Cysts are causing you pain.. You should go to a doctor or hospital. After having a Langthy discussion from the vagina clinic that nipped one of mine.. If your in any pain from your cyst you go to the doctor. It means they are infected and possible abcess. Once they are clogged, they are clogged and shouldn't cause pain or discomfort really (unless they are quite large). So if it's hurting go see a doctor! You can't do anything for them. Sticking a needle in there is dumb and won't do a thing (I did the same thing) the doctor showed me what he pushed out of mine after making an incision of about 1cm. It will not be sucked out by a need.
Niknax on September 01, 2015:
Hey guys I'm here for a update. Now it's extremely painful and me not being able to take the pain. I decided to try and pop it with a needle EXTREMELY BAD IDEA!! DON'T DO IT! Now it burns,itches and hurts. Its still swelling but now it looks brusied and still showing no sign of bursting. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow hopefully they can take care of this once and for all
Dina1120 on August 31, 2015:
Sounds like it already burst Niknax.
Mine burst at 2am 2 days ago. I sat in a sitz bath and put apple cider vinegar soaked cotton swabs on it while sitting at about 6pm. When I got out I could barley walk the pain was so intense so I took pain meds and laid down. I then put black salve on it with tissue at about 9pm. I kept it there for about 10 mins then laid back down. The pain was so unbearable that I did another sitz bath, this time adding Epson salt and a generous amount of acv to the bath. When I got out the tub I dabbed more acv on it with cotton swabs and laid back down (This hurts like HE** btw). At 1:30 am the pain woke me up so I went in the bathroom and started placing a rag under the hottest water I could stand and ringing the water out in between my legs until I saw a bloody mucus substance in the tub. I actually smelled it first as it stunk really bad. It was at that time I realized it burst. I didn't feel any pain when it burst and it wasn't like a big pop or anything. I was worried at first that would happen because I didn't read about what to expect anywhere. After it burst I sat on a sanitary napkin and pushed out as much of the bloody mucus I could. I now have a small pecan shaped lump on my left labia, it's not painful. Last night I had sex 2x even though I know I wasn't ready. My bf was all over me and I told him I was on my period for like two weeks because the placement of my IUD three months ago. I wasn't as lubricated as I usually am so going in I felt uncomfortable. Once he got in there everything was tolerable and I was actually able to enjoy myself. I should've waited I know but it's still a new relationship and I didn't want the embarrassment of telling him what I was going through. I've gone the whole day and I haven't been in pain but I have had a little spotting from the opening of the cyst. I'll update as things develop, I hope this helps.
OH! I also massaged my labia during my cysts baths to encourage it to burst.
How long did you guys wait before sex?
Niknax on August 28, 2015:
I'm 21 and currently experiencing my first bc. It's been about 4 days now it went from the size of a golf ball to maybe the size of 2 walnuts next to each other. It doesn't hurt. A bit of discomfort and soreness(since I ready of a way to burst it but didnt work out) my question is how do you know when it's ready to burst??
Dina1120 on August 28, 2015:
I have what I think is my first BC at the age of 35. I have an IUD so I don't get a period but I developed a very foul smelling discharge about a week ago which I thought was my period starting. I never officially got a period but I did maintain the discharge. I have genital herpes but I've never had an outbreak directly on my vagina so when I noticed the lump on my right labia that's what I thought it was. It wasn't painful but I knew it was there.
Other symptoms I experienced is horrible pain in my mouth and swollen lymph nodes. I need dental work done on the right side of my mouth and the pain was so bad that I only slept 1 1/2 hours after taking 1600 mg of Ibuprofen!! Luckily I only had that pain for one night but the cysts doubled in size and I realized that the pain I was feeling in my mouth was from an attack on my nerves.
I've done some research on how to get rid of them. I've been doing the sitz baths adding apple cider vinegar, I'm also applying acv directly to the cyst as well, it stings like hell but it did help ease the pain for a day or so.
I read online that Mucenex works so I've been taking that for a day to see it if will help it thin out. I'm so afraid it's going to burst I don't know what to do it's extremely painful at this point but I can't get to the Dr. and I don't want them to lance it. I'll update after it's over... Wish me luck!
JennyS7985 on June 27, 2015:
i have my first BC and I'm in agony! I can barely walk, sit, lay... I only noticed it a week ago and yesterday I was in so much pain, I went straight to the ER. The doc tried to drain it with a needle and there was no fluid. Idk what to think! Is this not a BC if there's no fluid?? It's huge! The size of a golf ball, but no fluid. I have an appt on Monday with my GYNO, and I'm terrified.
Allyson on May 08, 2015:
I noticed a bit of itching and pain on my left side last month the day my period ended. Didn't think much about it, as I'm usually a bit itchy afterwards anyway. Within a few hours it went from itchy to "ow" when I wiped. Grabbed a mirror and saw a pea sized lump right on my labia. Did the internet search thing...found it was a BC. I called my obgyn who couldn't get me in until the next day, so I took myself to a walk-in clinic, thinking I'd better be sure of what it was, since it was hurting a good bit more now.
She confirmed the BC and told me to try the hot baths with salt and said it looked like it was ready to burst. So home I went. Hot baths and compresses for the next few hours and when I tried to squeeze it, I noticed pus-like fluid oozing out of a tiny hole directly above the BC. And for the record, how the hell many holes do we have down there, anyway? Glands, ducts, holes...Jesus. So I got a little bit out and the swelling did go down. The next day I went to my OB who did the same thing and said that if it got worse, they could do the draining, etc...but she thought it looked good and to keep up what I was doing. She gave me a scrip for Doxycycline, which I started that day. The lump was much smaller, but never really went away. Fast forward to yesterday, I felt the lump while in the shower and it felt itchy and slightly bigger...oh no. I pulled out my handy dandy mirror and took a gander while siting on the toilet. Sure enough..it's there, with a tiny, white head. I squeezed it and sure enough, a bead of puss came out, directly from the lump this time, not above it. Intrigued, grossed out and on a mission, I squeezed a bit harder. There was a "pop" like if you squeezed a grape in your fingers and pus literally SHOT out and hit the mirror. Ewwwwwwww, but aaaaaaaaahhhh. I squeezed gently until just bloody fluid came out and wiped on a bit of Neosporin. Today it's totally flat with just a pin sized bit of pus able to squeeze out, but I can still feel a tiny lump of hardness. Will the little lump ever go away completely or is this still an infected bit of hard pus that I need to have removed? I've squeezed as much as I dare without irritating the area too much. Has anyone ever gotten rid of that little grain of rice feeling in there completely?
Jessie on January 24, 2015:
I had my first BC when I was 19 years old, it burst and about 2 months later began to reform. That being said, I didn't do any treatment to help it heal because I had no idea what it was. After seeing a gyno, I had the cyst marsupialized and haven't had a problem since and that was 6 years ago. Unfortunately I have developed another one, this time on the other gland, so will probably have the same procedure. I think home remedies are very helpful, but making sure you have a very good gynecologist is really important, it will ensure the surgery is successful and the cyst will not reform. It's also comforting to know that I'm not the only woman who has to deal with such an awful problem.
Bethany on October 27, 2014:
I also suffer from the cysts, I have heard that drinking Braggs organic apple cider vinegar mixed with water and honey is supposed to help keep the infection at bay as well as having a bunch of other health benefits. Hoping to start drinking it every day as I have the beginnings of a cyst developing right now. I'll try and remember to post if it does help!
Noelle on September 08, 2014:
@Brittany it sounds like it could have abscised. if it has, you'll need a doctor and antibiotics.
@bridget get a container big enough to squat overtop and soak in it with epson salts.
i've had two ping pong ball sized cysts one on either side of my vagina... i have balls. i have had them for two years. i finally got into a clinic at McMaster Hospital next week. i've tried everything to make them go away, baths, compresses, holistic drops, witch hazel, tea tree oil. nothing has worked, doctors haven't tried anything except told me to wait. i've been lucky enough that i haven't had any pain, just some discomfort.
bridget on September 07, 2014:
I'm 17 and I had my 3rd BC come up 2 weeks ago(the other 2 previous ones ruptured) and within 3 days became the size of an egg and the whole left side was swollen, I had no access to a bath so i could only use hot compresses to ease the pain and it was horribly painful. I went to my doctor who referred me to a gyn and he wanted to see me the next day at 9am, as soon as my gyn looked at it he gasped and booked an emergency op for that afternoon. I went through with the marsupialisation process and went home that night. It's very painful for the first 4 days and they give you no painkillers (i already had antibiotics). After a week i can walk but now i got my period and it's starting to feel slightly tingly and painful, is this normal? can anyone suggest other options if someone has no access to baths?
Brittany on September 03, 2014:
I've had cyst develop for the past 2-3 years, but I've never thought much of them (I thought that they were actually just in grown hairs due to shaving my pubic area). The more often that they began to occur I realized they always happened either just before or during the time that I had my period. I never worried about them because they were always just about the size of a pea, and didn't hurt. While at the doctors I told my obgyn about them and she said that it was mostly likely bc, and the next time I got one she confirmed that it was. A few days ago I got one and accidently "popped" it. I thought that it would be fine and I wouldn't have to deal with it, and then the next morning when I woke up, it felt like a golf ball had been stuck underneath my skin. The affected area is very swollen and sore, and it feels like there are two of them, one at the top of my vaginal lip and the other right underneath it at the bottom. Currently I am working in the middle of Alaska where I have no access to a doctors office, or a bath tub. I'm very worried and I don't know what to do. Its too painful when I walk, and when I'm sitting. Literally the only time I have relief from the pain is when I'm lying on my back or lying on my side with one leg bent and open.
Shann on May 10, 2014:
I got my first BC cyst as a teen, even before being sexually active, so i know it can't be linked. I would get one every 8-10 months all through my late teens and through my 20's. Sometimes letting them open themselves, and sometimes getting a doctor to lance it. I just recently realized that I haven't had one for about 3-4 yrs now. My bf and me were just discussing the facts and i realize that for the first time in my life i do not have access to a bathtub, and only showers for yrs now. Although I'm aware that a bath helps once one develops...but now I'm curious to know it soaking in baths with different bubblebaths, oils, beads, etc. could also help to cause one? Anyone agree?
laila on April 28, 2014:
Please help I couldn't find an answer anywhere
I had a mean and painful bartholin abcess and had it lanced and packed went to the dr two days after where she pocked again to get remaining abcess and again yesterday (3 times)
There is still a small hard lump there but the swelling and pain is reduced massively
She said she might have to cut from the outside to get red of this remaing deep hard pus as she described it
If it's not that annoying and I finished my antibiotic is it ok to just leave it to go on it's own?
When can I get back to exercising and sex after the lancing?
I'm afraid the duct is still closed and gets swelled up again?
Can I start having sitz baths now after couple days of lancing?
Thank you so much for you informative posts
becky on April 11, 2014:
I had swelling and then orange fluid drained and it was a lot. I went to the Er and the doctor gave me a PAP exam said everything seemed fine, that it must have been a BC and since the BC had drained he sent me on my way with no antibotics.I felt better for about a day and have noticed the swelling is back. For the most part its not painful just uncomfortable. I am the first in my family to experience this. And now that I've had it twice in less then a week, is it a sign that it will never go away and I will not feel 100% normal again?
Dax213 on March 10, 2014:
Stitchbug, I have been tested for STD's and they've all come back clean and I haven't been sexually active in over a year. About a month and a half ago I noticed there was a small bump on my right labia. There wasn't any pain, burning, or redness and it was really small (smaller than a pea.) Thinking it was a pimple I waited a few days, but no head formed and since squeezing it did nothing I just left it alone. A couple days ago I started my period and the bump tripled in size, it became very inflamed and red, and extremely painful. I tried the sitz bath as you suggested and I feel so much relief! The only thing I changed was soaking in a tub for 30 minutes twice a day and I just used Epsom salts (I couldn't find any shops with the herbs you mentioned above.) Not only did the cyst shrink and stop hurting, but my ankle and knee injury feel great! I've never heard of Epsom salts, but in doing a little more research they seem to provide a lot of he'll benefits. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to write this up and share it with us. I was in so much pain and every other site I went to offered very little help. You're awesome!!
Loon101 on February 01, 2014:
Hi All, I just had my BC be operated on (via marsupialization) and because the pain was dreadful after a week and I could not take it anymore, had to give in. I have had at least 3 in the past 3 years and the second one had me with a high fever that had me passing out. My MD did not recommend drainage, as she indicated that because I have had 3, that drainage may only make it re-occur, and as you all know, nobody wants that. It was done under local anesthesia, and when I came out from surgery, it was like the BC pain was never there. Now all I have to deal with is the recovery process. My MD also placed padding in there which comes out in 3 days (I have to take out myself) to assist with any risk of infection. She mentioned to me that while this process is not foolproof, it does reduce the re-occurrence. I would recommend this to anyone suffering from these dreaded things. I feel a lot better and regular Tylenol is dealing with the discomfort. I am functional after a week of being incapacitated. I do feel for all of you with bad experiences with these, and would really recommend this process of removal. Good luck to all.
anonymous on November 11, 2013:
Hi, I just recently was diagnosed with a Bartholin Cyst; it's about 2 inches, but I'm hoping to treat it at home and avoid having it drained. I read that a mixture of calamine lotion, tea tree oil and witch hazel works, but I'm hesitant to try it unless there are others who've done that and had successful results - can anyone verify that this works? thanks
Lauren on October 17, 2013:
I'm an Aussie gal that has just started a personal blog sharing my journey with a Bartholin Cyst. I've already gone through one marsupialisation surgery and unfortunately it's already re-occurred. Surgery isn't always the only option ladies. Please read my blog, share your thoughts/concerns/stories, be them positive or not so positive and let's not let BC's control our lives!!!
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sarah on October 02, 2013:
Hi! I'm 29 have haf 1 pregnancy, never had an STD, have been HPV vaccinated and routinely see my Gyn doctor for yearly paps - I had my first bartholin abscess when I was pregnant 6 years ago. The doctor lanced and cathed it ( omg awful!!!). I gave birth on Christmas and then continued to get get bartholin abscess' 6 times over the next year. It always happened that I would feel the pain of a little lump and within hours it was a golf ball and full on abscess. My Gyn doctor told me to only use Dial anti bacterial body wash the kind without the little beads in it from now on I had previously been using Dove. After that I did not have another flare up until this past week I ran out of dial and resorted to dove BC I had nothing else - terrible idea. This has been the worst one I've ever had. It burst last night after I treated it homeopathically with warm compresses, and a mixture I found online that called for 1oz of calomine lotion 1 tsp of tea tree oil and 1tsp of witch hazel I soaked a cotton ball in it then placed the cotton ball on the inner most side of the abscess (not directly in the vagina! But at the opening of it against the abscess) I laid down for 30 minutes took it out and cleaned the area (Idk if you are supposed to but I didn't want to take any chances) I then took one of those heat packs for muscle cramps in the shoulder and put it between my legs. It burst about an hour later. I also took and continue to take 3 probiotics every few hours to try to ward off any chance of a yeast infection (idk if it will work but I'm going to keep taking them for the next few days. I am no doctor I just know this worked for me the oil and calomine mix was super soothing and gave me a good 30min of pain relief. I did read other women had said that too much tea tree or witch hazel made it more painful and felt like they were burning so I suggest being very precise on measurements I added extra calomine out of fear. Best of luck ladies in the vaginal rhelm of hell known as Bartholin!
AT on October 01, 2013:
First off, thank you so much for getting this information out. These awful buggers have been plaguing me for about a year now...my doctor didn't seem too concerned about it when I went in. The warm compress is always very helpful for me if there's any discomfort. When I got my first one I was so scared, but unfortunately they happen. Just don't squeeze them or try to puncture them, that will make it worse. And though it may drain, it will most likely come right back.
ingrid on September 30, 2013:
Hi everyone..this is my 3rd bc..im so stressed right now..ive been in my bed for 3 days coz it hurts me a lot...I tried hot sitz bath with epsom salt and a tea tree oil..I wanna die having these...made me so much sick...I just noticed a lump last wednesday and it flared up friday..and its getting bigger now..I hope it will pop up soon :-(
Lily on September 25, 2013:
Hi ladies it's me again! So after 4 days, with so much swelling on my right side it finally popped. I was so scared it wouldn't even go and the doctors looked so shocked when they saw me, which made me even more scared! So I want to share some of my tips with you. I was so certain I would have to get it drained, and was in so much agony. I missed loads of school and it really upset me. I took baths literally all day and at points just gave up because it didn't look any better just looked worse. It really bought me down and I just felt like giving up at points! I did try a bit of tea tree oil on a cotton pad the day before and it stung but it might of made it come to a head. I got some epson salts and put them in the bath last night. At first I didn't notice Anything but this morning this is when it made a difference. I knew it was going to come out and I gently squeezed it so many time and it just came out( sorry if to much info.) I'm recovering now and hoping I heal. These are the things I recommend.. - Tea tree oil( mine was from the body shop.). - Diet, try to eat a lot of berries and drink cranberry juice since this remedy has been proven to get rid of things such as UTIs. - Epson Salts, these are amazing and hopefully will help to prevoke it. - advice from your doctor. Please don't be afraid to go to your doctor, you would rather be safe then sorry! And that's what they are there for. I most definatley needed antibiotics. - cotton underwear/ comfy underwear. - try to stay positive. I know this may be so hard, but your mind manipulates how your body works. Hope this helps, good luck ladies, were all in this together!
Lily on September 24, 2013:
I'm really worried since its affecting my school life, does tea tree oil work?
Katie on September 21, 2013:
I just had my left gland removed a few days ago. It is painful is it ok to use heat on the site instead of the cold or should I stick with the cold? Also I have had one cut open and drained in the hospital 2 years ago so now I am very dry and itchy down there. Any suggestions ?
Berenice on August 31, 2013:
Hello, I had a BC on the right side two years ago. Went to doctor, and got the BC drained and took antibiotics. 7 days ago, I started noticing a lump on my left side towards the opening of the vagina, did the sitz baths for 5 days and did not noticed a difference. The mass is firm/hard, feels like a walnut in size, it hurts to sit, and walk, and the pain is sharp with a burning sensation. I went to urgent care and a nurse practioner sent me to ER as she was concern it needed to be drained and they could not drain it there. Went to ER afterwards, and the MD stated it felt hard, and not fluid-filled, and that I needed to see a gynecologist as she did not want to poke it. I called a gynecologist but I do not have the appoitment until next Thursday. I'm extremely worry, and being crying my eyes out as I have been doing research and found bartholin gland cancer information that has me freaked out. Any of you experienced firmness with no mevement, and constant burning pain with your cyst? Please help.
Tiffany on July 20, 2013:
I am 38 and I got my first vaginal abscess in May 2013. So far I've had one every month. My cysts automatically abscess and I have no idea why this is happening. This is very depressing,especially when you're doing everything you can to keep them from recurring. I'm considering going to a Holistic Doctor. Has anyone gone down this path?
khyrs on June 03, 2013:
Ok so I just had my first bc. They had a cath put in but no pills so the word cath got infected with cellulitus!!! Its been 3 days since
the cath has Been taken out and there is another cyst! Its not painful just annoying. How can I pop this and can I prevent it??
Alice on June 03, 2013:
Hi, I'm 21 and I first developed one b.cyst this year. My doctor gave me antibiotics, but now 3 months later I have 2 and they're bigger!
I was wondering if there is any proven link between anxiety/stress and these cysts?
Also. I have a condition called lichen sclerosus - which is of the vulval area. I've had this for over 1 year, and it has prevented me having sex.
Do you know/think that stopping having sex could also encourage cysts to form????
I'd be really interested to hear if anyone has any knowledge/experience.
ashley on March 09, 2013:
I was about 3 months prego in 2002 and my gyno drained a lump that was not hurting. i was in the hospital a week later, cuz it got as big as a golfball, i switched drs, the new one said "if he wouldn't have touched it then i wouldn't have all these problems. i have approx $10,000 in emergency bills because of these cysts. ive bn with the same man for the last 3 and half yrs now, havnt had one since 2008. just got over my monthly had a lump appeared with pain. i immediately started the sitz baths, just hoping it would subside till monday. so i can go to dr. while i was at work today it ruptured. What can i do? i dont want it clogged back up.
Phoebe on March 06, 2013:
First of all, for all of you having pain or discomfort associated with the BC, sorry to hear that. For those that aren't having pain, I would leave it alone. I got my 1st one about 10 years ago. My Obg saw it and I would have never known it was there. Had it 7 years! Every year I'd go to my Obg exam they told me the same thing... Yep still there but as long S it doesn't bother you, just leave it. They said it wasn't anything to worry about unless it got too big or painful. So I left it. Then I got pregnant with my second child and right at the end of my pregnancy, it got really big. My dr told me after healing from delivery I had to have it drained. 6 weeks later, I had it drained in the Obg office and had to wear a catheter for a week. It was gone. Now 3 years later, it's back. Yay! It still isn't painful but I can tell its there. Went to Obg yesterday and she recommended marsupialization but I'm not dwon with that program. Gonna try the sits bath but draining is useless cuz it's just gonna come back. I feel like if I'm gonna go thru all that drama again I'd rather cut the whole thing out. Will ask about that next time. But not messing with it till I have to. Not worth it.
joana on February 25, 2013:
hi i just got my bc like 2 days ago, im really worried, its a bit inflamed...i still dont know what to do, im in another country and no epsom salt available, im just worried that it will get bigger, sometimes im feeling pain, should i consider taking antibiotics already??? if like pea size only and a bit inflamed, will sitz bath work in draining it?????
bdl77 on February 21, 2013:
My first bc developed 2 months ago and it was a size of a pea. I felt discomfort sitting, walking, and getting into the car etc.. It ruptured by itself a week ago. But before it ruptured, I felt some pain and dryness in my labia (only one side where the cyst was developed), and sometimes sharp stabbing pain near the vagina opening. Has anyone experienced that pain??
After it ruptured, the swollen is down but sometimes I still get the dry feeling and discomfort. Maybe it didn't drain completely. I didn't touch my labia when it ruptured because it was so painful so I didn't get a chance to check if it was fully drained or not..
Since I still have discomfort even after one week, perhaps the part of it is still there or maybe another one is coming.. It really makes my life miserable.. I can't sit or walk comfortably.. It is tender to the touch.
I've been suffering for 2 months - it could be all in my head. I don't know.. but I hate the feeling of the dryness and sharp pain once in awhile.. Has anyone get that??
Stitchbug (author) on February 21, 2013:
Not that I am aware of (mind you I am not a doctor) Other than perhaps some annoyance that it is there. An inflamed gland does not always become infected. I would continue life an usual so long as it causes you no discomfort, drink lots of water, do not wear overly constricting under garments or pants, ect.
vwebb on February 17, 2013:
The doc discovered the swollen gland when I was having my yearly pap smear about 6 months ago; the doc examined it, touched it, squeezed it and I felt no discomfort. The doc said since I wasn't having any discomfort that we could just leave it alone. I don't have any issues with the gland other than it looks like big walnut. I was considering maybe getting it drained, but after reading all of the issues after draining. I think I will leave it alone. Are there other issues that can come from this gland being so large??
missk on January 31, 2013:
I am only 30 yrs old, and last month was my first time having a BC...and omgosh did it scared me...what i did was alot of research, didn't bother to see the doctors and wanted to take care of myself naturally due to all the scary stories i heard from the internet...so what i dead was a sitz bath...i dont have a bathtub, but i got a big bucket and fill it with warm-hot water, well hot enough for me to sit in there, and i added dead sea salt...did it for one and a half weeks and then my BC drained...after a month after i had period, i notice another BC was kicking in...now i am back to square one...the sitz bath gets really tiring...i am thinking about cutting out all dairy from my diet and see if that is the main factor that causes BC, because so far when i consume dairy it flares up my BC...AND BTW milk contains bacterial, pus, blood cells, hormones, antibiotic, etc,,,which causes pimples and acne in most people...so will see from there if this method works for me
Stitchbug (author) on January 15, 2013:
Unfortunately there is no specific time frame for them. On average 7-10 days, but there are women who have ongoing cysts that can last several months. Though, for many of these women, their OB or Gyn tend to make the recommendation to incise the cyst. It is not like a pimple, and will not rupture usually--the body naturally absorbs the excess, retained fluid. in most cases. Take care of it, use warm compresses, do not wear constricting clothing ect.
Lnoelle on January 14, 2013:
this is my first time with a cyst. The doctor didn't give me much information, everything i've read is very vague.
How long do BC's typically stick around? i've had it for a month now, it isn't painful, it isn't uncomfortable, its just a lump, about the size of a large grape.
Does it eventually form a head (like a pimple)? is that when it starts getting painful?
louisseq on October 11, 2012:
I had a marsupialization on July 2012 but after 3 months, I got the BC again..
jmofromtheblock on October 09, 2012:
I just had mine removed today. Is there any way to make urinating less painful?
Kai on September 07, 2012:
Hi im suffering from bc right nw the first did i have this when im 9months pregnant and my ob-gyne gave a medice cefuroxime after i take that the bc was totally drained...but does not the end b coz after brth almost 2month ago the hc will come back again and always did i do is to take the cefuroxime antibiotics but after a month the bc will still there...what did i do to make the bc will not be come back again?
Nelly on August 21, 2012:
OMG im so happy i found this page, I have been dealing with Bartholin cysts for almost 2 years, its almost like every 6 months one will pop up but in February i developed an abcess....ugh the most painful thing i have ever in my life experienced so much so i went to A&E and when they asked what my pain level on a scale of 1-10 was i screamed 10!!!! They sent me to hospital where i stayed overnight and had surgery the next morning, i had a marsupialization and the relief was amazing!!! Since then i have noticed that whenever i get turned on i literally feel blocked and sore by the Bartholin Glands so i told my DR and she was like 'oh you poor thing' i woke up yesterday morning with a full on cyst. Like all other women with this problem i am so tired of it, it is ruining my life not to mention my sexlife!!! I am so tempted to ask the DR if i can have the entire gland removed.....has anyone else had this done??
P on August 17, 2012:
oops! I had a hot bath with pink hymilayan sea salt and about 12 drops of lavender oil to aid in healing and disinfecting it.
The relief was immediate! And after about an hour it burst. Not quite empty but I'm going to keep having baths til it's finished.
I wanted to post here to say thank you for your great advice and also because I thought mine may not have been a Bartholin cyst because it is a bit higher up than some of the images. It's 4.30am and I'm posting so that gives you an idea of how relieved I am!
Thank you again and I'm going to follow your prevention tips, plus avoid lancing
I have another sign to watch out for - I noticed a stronger odour for a couple of days, more fishy and dark than normal.
I have just had my period, always use panty Liners during and between periods, and had been using soap rather than bodywash for a week - I think it was the soap which tipped the balance. Thanks again!
P on August 17, 2012:
Thank you so much for this page!!
I first found a little lump on my left labia minora about 6-7 years ago and asked my gp about it. He said something vague about fatty tissue and that cutting it out would cause it to grow. In the last few years the area has occasionally become a bit inflamed and sore but then died down (the things we ignore!) and I sometimes had a tiny bit of bleeding or fluid. I didn't think much about it, thinking I had just damaged the sensitive skin of the labia with toilet paper - I now know differently! These were obviously very small infections which healed quickly.
They little lump has grown a couple of times which worried my but I didn't think anything could be done about it. A couple of days ago it suddenly got huge and has been extremely painful - very embarrassing at work trying to find a comfortable way to sit!
Well I did some research tonight and found this and other information about Bartholin cysts and had a hot 3 bath with pink hymilayan
Ivy on August 13, 2012:
I got my first Bartholin cyst 8 months ago. Did homeopathy for 4 full months and finally it went away only to reappear within 2 months. I agree w. Stitchbug, you cannot drain or punture the cyst, that method is wrong. What else should I do? Acupuncture, natropathy? I'm so tired of sitz baths and now I'm going to cut out dairy.
It is making me feel so depressed I'm married less than 2 years. Please help with more suggestions on this condition.
rose on August 09, 2012:
In about 1 and a half years ive had like 10-15 bartholins cysts and omg are they painful and getting them lanced is the worse pain ive ever felt in my life but sad to say that im used of the pain by now when the dr numbs it with lidocaine which i dont even feel it helps cause i can feel the scalpel/blade cut through my labial area. I have been told by my dr that i need marsupiliazation surgery and hopefully i can get it done soon in my lifestyle its real hard to find time to focus on myself. Ive been so desperate at times and have had no time I lance it myself, ouch!!! Im 28 yrs old and i am so ready to have this chapter of my life to end.
Maria b on August 01, 2012:
I found putting toilets paper between the cyst and. Vagina took the pressure off especially when walking. I have had 3 bartholins and I will no take antibiotics again as it was too sudden a pain to deal with. I am taking aconite and calc sulph and having lots of baths.
Mel on July 14, 2012:
No it will not effect the baby,I had 3 of them while prego with my son!!! I would not recommend getting them lanced while prego, it is very stressful and painful. I won't lie!!! I have had these for 7 years now and have gotten to the point of just waiting them out
Angelique on June 27, 2012:
Hello, I've been dealing with BC for about a year now, I've had three of them that have turned into an Abscess but also ruptured on their own. This was because I refused to go to a doctor, never liked them much. However, I'm currently on my fourth BC and playing the waiting game of it rupturing is awful. This one is about the size of a small egg. However, I am now 8 wks pregnant with my first child and I was wondering if this is going to effect the baby at all? I'm really worried and in a lot of pain, also, is there any other pain relief I can consume while pregnant?
Chelsea on June 21, 2012:
i have had one for about 3days and it hurts really bad and it is kinda hard but i can move it.... its about the size of a golf ball could this be cancer?
Stitchbug (author) on June 14, 2012:
Natalie:9 marsupiliazations??!! Does the drainage site keep re-sealing? How old are you? What is causing the abscess? Have they tested for what virus,bacterium ect is causing it? Identifying the cause means finding the cure...or prevention I should say.
natalie on June 13, 2012:
I've had 9 marsupilations and 12 abscess flair ups in total in 3 years. Is that something to be worried about? I had my gland removed in September. I was supposed to have both removed but my left gland is impossible to get too and doctors said it's 'inoperable'. I still get pains around my vaginal area. Having a scan in a few weeks. Should I be worried?
wv on April 23, 2012:
I have been suffering from recurring bartholyns cyst since 2005. I have them as frequently as every 6 or 7 months to every 1-2 months, so we are talking about average 3-4 a yr.
Most recently Im abstinent and began to work with my diet, removing all red meat and pork, this seemed to have helped. However, I noticed dairies and high stress levels aggravates the cyst. I had my last lancing March 12 and am already developing another one a little over a month later. I have had two marsupializations and several catheters and lancings. I am 31, have no children and very sad to suffer from this time and time again. Do you recommend any surgeons in the NY area that remove the entire gland? I know this sounds drastic however after 7 years of this and all the treatments I am sure this is my only answer.
Michelle on April 03, 2012:
Thank you for your post. I recently had my first Bartholin Gland cyst (which actually abcessed). I went to the OB-GYN about 4 days after I noticed a bulge and discomfort. By the time I saw the physician I had been alternating 800mg of Ibuprofen and 500mg of Tylenol daily. It was probably the size of a golf ball right before it burst. The OB-GYN wasn't too nervous about it, and prescribed a round of antibiotics and instructed me to take warm baths until it burst. She then said that since I've had one, I'm very likely to have a repeat incident. That was two months ago. Unfortunately, I can feel the cyst again (after a very lovely romantic weekend, of course). I've been doing sitz baths, and also using tea tree oil in the water (apparently, it worked for a few other women in a form). My question for you is, what is the ideal body wash? I'm using Dove's unscented sensitive skin, and honestly it smells like it has fragrance in it, and it feels harsh on my skin. I'm trying to take all of the other precautions you've mentioned on your website, but I do feel I'm using too harsh of a wash. Any suggestions? I appreciate any feedback you have. Also, I'm not against making my own if you have a recipe. Thank you!
C.C. on November 08, 2011:
I need advise I have had 2 procedures under GA for remove bartolin cysts but the occur up around the top of the vaginal opening near the clitoris! I'm currently in hospital after a 3rd painful episode they gave me lots if IV antibiotics and are sending me home! I know it's going to refill it always does it's constantly there! Is there any long term options??
Stitchbug (author) on April 28, 2011:
Sorry it took me some time to respond! No, chances are it is not cancer, especially if it is painless. Why do you think it is cancer? Typically, this type of cancer is very rare and tends to run in families. Symptoms of cancer would be pretty obvious, a hard lump ( not the semi-movable soft or "squeezable" lump associated with a cyst)when I say hard, I mean hard. There is one variety of cancer that can happen in this gland that affects the lining, and so it does not form a lump or mass. That variety as I understand it painful, so again you would know. Talk to your gyno, express your concern and tell her that you do not want a biopsy--its your body, your choice, besides, biopsies of this gland for an individual that is already having problems with that area should REALLY be limited as much as possible. Any injuries to this area, including biopsy however small the incision is can be permanently damaging to the overall immunity and integrity of this gland. It is so very sensitive that too many incisions resulting is scar tissue can adversely affect you and actually make it easier to become irritated and inflamed . If your gyno is not bursting at the seams with info regarding bartholin glands you need a new gyno. Bartholin condition's are not terribly common and not many doctors really know what to do, often relying on ancient practices that are more and more being rejected by those knowledgeable in the medical community regarding bartholin glands.
Jeane on April 06, 2011:
Is there a way of knowing if a bartholin gland cyst is actually bartholin gland cancer? Are there unusual symptoms that point to cancer? I have a painless bartholin cyst and I'm not keen on getting a biopsy unless there's a strong reason to do so. Please answer. I'm quite anxious about this.