The Bartholin glands lie at either side of the vagina. They produce a mucous substance which lubricates the vagina during sexual intercourse. Occasionally the gland duct becomes blocked and this causes a cyst. Usually cysts are not very painful, but can be distressing and can interfere with intercourse or exercise.
Sometimes a Bartholin cyst becomes infected and an abscess forms. This is usually extremely painful and requires urgent drainage of the abscess if it does not drain itself. Antibiotics may also be required to treat the infection.
Both Bartholin cysts and abscesses are treated by either a procedure called marsupialisation usually performed under General Anaesthesia or by inserting a small catheter into the gland using local anaesthetic in the clinic (Word Catheter). Both techniques work very well, but it is common for cysts or abscesses to recur some time in the future whichever method of treatment is used.
Marsupialisation involves making a small incision and then placing some dissolvable sutures to hold the gland open.
The Word catheter is a flexible short tube which is placed into the gland after a small incision has been made and the contents of the gland have been drained and washed out. Local anaesthetic is used to numb the area where the incision is to be made. The catheter should stay in the gland for up to 4 weeks so that after it is removed the gland duct stays open to reduce the risk of a further blockage.
Holly House Hospital
Clinics Thursdays 9.00-12.00
Tel: 0208 936 1201
BMI London Independent Hospital
Clinics Thursdays 1-4pm
Tel: 0207 780 2400
Surgery is also performed at Spire Roding Hospital, Redbridge IG4 5PZ 02087097878