Health Information and Tools > Patient Care Handouts >  Bartholin Cyst Surgery: Before Your Surgery
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Bartholin Cyst Surgery: Before Your Surgery

Female pelvic organs

What is Bartholin cyst surgery?

Bartholin cysts are fluid-filled sacs in your Bartholin gland. These glands are in your lower vulva, the area around your vagina. They can become infected and form an abscess, or sac of pus.

Bartholin cysts can be treated in three ways:

  • Word catheter. The doctor makes a small cut in the cyst. This cut is called an incision. Then the doctor puts a small rubber tube, called a catheter, in the incision. The catheter keeps the area open so fluid can drain out of it. This treatment can be done in the doctor's office. The doctor will numb your vulva so you feel less pain. Your doctor will take out the catheter after several weeks.
  • Marsupialization. The doctor makes a small incision in the cyst. Then he or she puts a few stitches on either side of the incision. Fluid from your cyst drains out of this small, permanent opening. This treatment can be done in the doctor's office. The doctor will numb your vulva so you feel less pain.
  • Excision. The doctor cuts out the entire cyst and sometimes the gland and duct. This is not done often. This is a more complex surgery. The doctor will numb your vulva so you feel less pain.

Most women go home 1 to 6 hours after surgery. You can expect to feel better each day, but you will probably need 2 to 4 weeks to recover. Your doctor will advise you to avoid having sex for at least 2 weeks, or until your vulva is completely healed.

After one of these surgeries, your cyst and any pain in your vulva should go away. Some women need more than one of these surgeries to permanently get rid of a cyst.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines, including natural health products, such as vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • You will probably go home after 3 to 6 hours in the recovery room.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

Enter A859 in the search box to learn more about "Bartholin Cyst Surgery: Before Your Surgery".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.