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Definition of Bartholin’s cyst
A fluid-filled enlargement of a Bartholin’s gland. There are two Bartholin’s glands, one on each side of the entrance to the vagina. Normally undetectable, the Bartholin’s glands produce secretions that lubricate the vaginal opening.
A cyst may form when the duct that allows the secretions to drain from the gland becomes blocked (occluded). The secretions continue to accumulate but have no exit, causing the gland to gradually enlarge. The enlargement may become quite large before a woman can detect it, and often causes no symptoms until its size causes discomfort.
The gynecologist can diagnose a Bartholin’s cyst on the basis of its appearance. Treatment is to drain the cyst, after which the gland returns to normal function. The gynecologist may place a tiny tube temporarily into the cyst to allow the accumulated fluid to drain, or may make a small incision to release the fluid, then suture the incision open to maintain drainage.
These procedures are usually performed in the gynecologist’s office with local anesthesia to first numb the area. Occasionally an infection develops within a Bartholin’s cyst, which requires a course of treatment with antibiotic medications.
See also VAGINITIS.
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