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The Bartholin glands are in a woman's vulva. This is the area around the vagina. The glands are normally about the size of a pea. They provide fluid to the vulvar area through a small opening. If the opening is blocked, the gland swells with fluid and forms a cyst. You can have a cyst for years with no symptoms. But if a cyst gets infected by bacteria, it can grow and become red and painful. This is called an abscess. Opening and draining the cyst usually cures the infection.
You may have had a small tube (catheter) placed into the cyst or minor surgery to let the cyst drain. The tube will usually be left in for at least 4 weeks. Your doctor may do a lab test to find out what kind of bacteria caused the infection. You may get antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
You may have some drainage from the cyst for a few weeks. The gland should return to normal after the infection clears up.
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.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: February 19, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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.
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