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Is Bartholin’s Cyst a Sexually Transmitted Disease?

bartholian cyst

Overview

Bartholin’s cyst: discovering a painful lump in the vaginal area may have you wondering if you could have an STI or STD. Here is what Your Doctors Online wants you to know. 

What is a Bartholin’s Cyst? 

The human body is full of glands. The glands throughout your body produce and release different secretions. 

The Bartholin’s gland is on each side of the labia, located outside the vaginal opening. The function of this gland is to produce lubrication for the vagina. 

This lubrication fluid exits the gland through small tubes called Bartholin ducts. When this process becomes disrupted, a Bartholin’s cyst can form. When the duct becomes blocked, the gland will become filled with fluid, and a cyst will form. 

What causes a Bartholin cyst?

There isn’t a definite answer to why some women are predisposed to developing Bartholin cysts. However, some causes of Bartholin cysts include:

  • Trauma, injury or irritation in the vulvar area.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea
  • Bacterial infections such as those caused by Escherichia (E. coli).

What are the symptoms of a Bartholin cyst?

Many potential reasons a woman may experience a Bartholin’s cyst exist. A Bartholin cyst can form due to an injury, swelling, or thicker mucus. These possible changes to a woman’s vaginal area can cause a blockage in the Bartholin ducts, resulting in a Bartholin cyst. 

Mainly, Bartholin cysts present as a small pimple on the vaginal lip or a movable lump on labia majora and do not cause any symptoms apart from minor irritation. 

Are Bartholin Cysts STDs? Consult With Our Doctors for Treatment

From Cyst to Abscess

However, if a Bartholin cyst converts into an abscess, symptoms may include:

  • Swelling/lump and discomfort in the area (painful lump on labia majora)
  • Increase in size of the cyst.
  • Drainage from the cyst.
  • Fever or chills.
  • Redness.
  • Pain while walking, sitting, inserting a tampon or wiping after using the restroom. Pain while having intercourse. 

The cyst on labia majora can vary in size. Sometimes, a woman may not even realize she has a cyst on the labia. In more extreme cases, the bump on the vagina lip may feel tender or even become infected. A pus-filled cyst is called an abscess. 

When the vulvar cysts infect, pus can form within the inflamed tissue. This infection can cause the area to become swollen and tender to the touch. In addition, the pain from an infected Bartholin cyst can cause activities such as intercourse and walking to become painful. 

Are Bartholin Cysts an STI? 

While the bacteria from a sexually transmitted infection can cause a Bartholin cyst to become infected, the cyst itself is caused by a blockage in your Bartholin ducts. So while some of the symptoms (and the area they are occurring!) may be similar to an STI, a Bartholin cyst is not transmitted sexually, but STDs that cause cysts to become infected include chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

Which STIs or STDs can cause a Bartholin’s Abscess?

It is possible for STIs and STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, to cause the infections that create a Bartholin’s abscess. This results in swelling, redness, difficulty or discomfort in movement and a potential fever. 

Are Bartholin Cysts STDs?

Gonorrhea 

Gonorrhea is an STD that can be transmitted to and affects both men and women. It is the most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States

In 2018, a total of 583,405 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the United States. Gonorrhea can potentially cause infections in the genitals, rectum, and throat area.

It is a prevalent infection that is likely to affect younger women who are sexually active. Women can get gonorrhoea by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who is a carrier of the disease.

Gonorrhea can cause much more than just an infected Bartholin’s cyst. It is caused by bacteria that are spread through sexual contact. While many people with gonorrhea experience no symptoms, it can cause infections throughout the body. 

Chlamydia

Just like Gonorrhea, Chlamydia is another STD that can cause infections in Bartholin’s cysts. Chlamydia is caused by a bacteria known as Chlamydia trachomatis, which can infect both men and women. 

Each year about three million people are infected with chlamydia, making it one of the most prevalent STDs in the world.

Younger women who are sexually active, don’t consistently use a condom, or have multiple partners are at a higher risk of getting infected. Women can get chlamydia in the throat, cervix or rectum.

In addition to other problems, it can cause severe damage to a woman’s reproductive system. For example, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility (from scar tissue in the fallopian tubes) and problems such as ectopic pregnancy. 

According to the World Health Organization, across the world, over 1 million sexually transmitted infections are acquired daily. Hence, it is important to know about these infections and diseases to be able to treat and prevent them.

Am I at risk of developing a Bartholin Cyst?

Bartholin cysts are most likely to occur in sexually active women during their reproductive years. Most women are likely to be affected in their 20s and 30s. Bartholin cysts occur during your reproductive years. The Bartholin gland does not begin to function until a girl reaches puberty. In addition, many women experience a genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). This term refers to symptoms that occur during menopause, including a lack of lubrication during intercourse. The Bartholin gland is responsible for providing lubrication to the vagina. Therefore, if the gland reduces function during menopause, it makes sense that it is less likely to form a cyst. 

Bartholin cysts occur in about 3% of all women. However, women who use condoms are less likely to develop an infected Bartholin cyst. 

Related: 7 Important Facts you Need to Know About your Period

Do you have a bump on your vagina? Consult With Our Doctors for Treatment

How is a Bartholin cyst diagnosed?

In order to diagnose a Bartholin cyst, your doctor will perform a physical exam. They will evaluate the size of the cyst and look for signs of infection. Your doctor may test the fluid for infections if the cyst produces discharge. 

Some women will have Bartholin cysts and never know it. The cysts can vary from extremely small to noticeably large lumps. The symptoms associated with a Bartholin cyst differ depending on whether or not your cyst is infected. Some women can experience recurring Bartholin cysts as well. 

How do I know if I have a Bartholin’s cyst?

A Bartholin cyst will be: 

An early stage Bartholin cyst is small to a large mass that is not painful. It may be slightly red and located near the vaginal opening. 

A Bartholin Abscess will be: 

A painful mass with visible swelling and inflammation. You may experience a fever and/or drainage from your cyst. You may even experience pain during everyday activities such as walking, sitting or moving around. 

Is it true Bartholin Cysts can heal naturally?

Bartholin cysts can heal naturally when there is no infection present. Remember, many small cysts often go undetected by women. If the cyst is painless and no other symptoms are reported, medical professionals advise to let it heal naturally without any intervention.

Women may be advised to take over-the-counter pain relievers if they experience mild discomfort or Bartholin cyst burning. 

Avoiding sexual activity until the area is healed and keeping the site clean is also recommended. You can encourage healing and discomfort by soaking in warm water. The Bartholin cyst may become likely to pop on its own, but the Bartholin cyst should not be popped at home.

It may seem surprising, but sometimes Bartholin cysts do not require treatment. If the cyst is painless and no other symptoms are reported, medical professionals advise to let it heal naturally without any intervention.

What are the treatment options for a Bartholin cyst?

Bartholin’s cyst treatments vary depending on the type of Bartholin cyst, degree of infection and pain level you are experiencing. A standard course of treatment is to be prescribed antibiotics. The antibiotics work to both fight the infection and reduce the inflammation. Following are Bartholin’s cyst antibiotics that are commonly prescribed: 

  • Amoxicillin-clavulanate: 875 mg orally twice daily
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (co-trimoxazole): 1 to 2 DS tablets orally twice daily
  • Metronidazole: 500 mg orally three times daily
  • Doxycycline: 100 mg orally twice daily
  • Minocycline: 200 mg orally once, then 100 mg orally twice daily
  • Clindamycin: 450 mg orally three times daily
  • Ciprofloxacin: 500 mg orally twice daily

Usually, treatment is recommended for 5-7 days.

Other Treatment Options

In some cases, the cyst may need to be drained. Your doctor may use a needle for Bartholin cyst drainageWhen this is done, your doctor may also clean the cavity with a 70% alcohol liquid solution to prevent future infection. 

Sometimes, a word catheter is inserted and inflated to drain the cyst. Your doctor can leave the catheter in for between two and four weeks to help drain the fluid. 

Another option for Bartholin cyst removal is to drain the cyst and vaporise it with a carbon dioxide laser. This treatment is considered adequate but expensive and can require multiple treatments. 

Your doctor may consider a more permanent treatment option. This is done through a surgical process called marsupialization. This is when a small incision is made in the cyst. The doctor will place a few stitches on either side of the incision to help drain the fluid through a small, permanent opening. 

In rare cases, when other treatments are ineffective, your doctor may recommend a gland excision. This is a surgical procedure where the Bartholin gland and duct are surgically removed. This is a last resort when other treatment options are ineffective. 

How do I prevent being infected?

Although there is no definite way of preventing Bartholin cysts, there are a few precautions you can take in order to minimize the chances of infection. 

Firstly, the key to keeping infections at bay is indulging in safe sex practices. In addition, it is advisable to use condoms to reduce your chances of being infected with STIs and STDs. Another precautionary measure is maintaining good hygiene. Good personal hygiene can prevent bacterial infections and help a Bartholin’s cyst heal faster.

Lastly, it is essential to be aware of your sexual health and get in touch with your doctor to ensure that you do not have any STIs or STDs, mainly if you are sexually active.

If you have questions on preventing Bartholin’s cyst or STDs, contact our online doctors today and share your questions. 

At Your Doctor’s Online, we are committed to ensuring that you always have a direct communication channel with qualified physicians.

When to Consult a Doctor?

While Bartholin cysts are often harmless and heal independently without medical intervention, you still need to speak to a doctor. If you feel a lump or mass near the opening of your vagina, it is crucial to determine if the mass is a cyst or another medical issue. This is particularly important if you’ve hit menopause. Your doctor can also use a cervical screening test to confirm the diagnosis. In rare cases, more often in women over 40, your doctor may need a biopsy to rule out Bartholin’s gland cancer. 

If you suspect that your cyst may be infected (due to swelling, draining or fever), it is essential to start antibiotics for treatment. You can get a prescription by consulting our doctor at Your Doctors Online

Do you have symptoms of a Bartholin Cyst? Consult With Our Doctors for Treatment

FAQs About Bartholin Cysts Answered by Your Doctors Online Team

Do Bartholin cysts go away on their own?

While Bartholin cysts are often harmless and heal independently without medical intervention, you will require treatment such as antibiotics if you have pain or any symptoms of an infection. 

How long does a Bartholin cyst last?

A Bartholin cyst can last from a few days to a few weeks. After that, it may remain symptomless or develop into an abscess. 

How to pop a Bartholin cyst yourself?

Do not squeeze, pop or insert sharp objects like needles into a cyst to burst it open. This can lead to an infection or injury. Bartholin cyst can drain on its own after several days of treatment.

What comes out of a Bartholin cyst when it opens?

A combination of pus, mucus, bacteria, blood or other fluid can ooze from the site opens the cyst opens or bursts. 

Can a Bartholin cyst be prevented?

Although there is no specific way to prevent Bartholin cysts, you can take a few precautions to minimize the chances of infection. 

How can I reduce my risk of getting a Bartholin cyst?

The key to keeping infections at bay is indulging in safe sex practices. In addition, it is advisable to use condoms to reduce your chances of being infected with STIs and STDs. Another precautionary measure is maintaining good hygiene. Good personal hygiene can prevent bacterial infections and help a Bartholin’s cyst heal faster.

Can a Bartholin cyst keep coming back?

Yes, recurrence is common. However, if a cyst or abscess keeps recurring, a surgical procedure known as marsupialization can be carried out. 

Can stress cause a Bartholin cyst?

Stress hasn’t been identified as a factor. However, injury, infections or STDs are commonly associated with the development of Bartholin cysts. 

Can you get a Bartholin cyst without being sexually active?

Yes, an injury or bacterial infection can result in Bartholin cysts. 

Is a Bartholin cyst an std?

While the bacteria from a sexually transmitted infection can cause a Bartholin cyst to become infected, the cyst itself is caused by a blockage in your Bartholin ducts. So while some of the symptoms (and the area they are occurring!) may be similar to an STI, a Bartholin cyst is not transmitted sexually, but STDs that cause cysts to become infected include chlamydia and gonorrhea. 

Why do Bartholin’s Cysts Form?

Many potential reasons a woman may experience a Bartholin’s cyst exist. For example, a Bartholin cyst can form due to an injury, swelling, or even thicker mucus. These potential changes to a woman’s vaginal area can potentially cause a blockage in the Bartholin ducts that results in a Bartholin cyst. 

Why do I keep getting Bartholin cysts?

Discharge, excessive secretions or fluid accumulation can cause the gland’s opening to become obstructed, usually caused by infection or injury resulting in recurring Bartholin cysts. 

Does endometriosis cause Bartholin cysts?

Endometriosis of the Bartholin gland is a rare finding. Endometriosis may be a primary or secondary finding caused by episiotomy or other postoperative scars. 

Can a hormone imbalance cause a Bartholin cyst?

A hormonal imbalance may result in vaginal dryness and irritation, but it is not linked to developing a Bartholin cyst.

How painful is Bartholin cyst removal?

The procedure is not painful as it is carried out under local anaesthesia. However, after the procedure, you may experience discomfort and pain in your vulva for several days.

Do Bartholin cysts have to be removed?

If the cyst causes no symptoms, no treatment is required. Instead, the treatment plan is based on the size of the cyst, pain and whether the cyst is infected, resulting in an abscess.

How long does a Bartholin cyst surgery take?

Surgery to remove the gland is done under general anaesthesia and can take an hour. However, you may require hospitalisation for 2-3 days after. 

What happens if a Bartholin cyst goes untreated?

Usually, the cyst causes no symptoms and can resolve on its own. However, if it develops into a Bartholin’s abscess worsens and is left untreated, the infection could spread into the body, resulting in a condition called septicemia. 

What std causes Bartholin cyst?

It is possible for STIs and STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, to cause the infections that create a Bartholin’s abscess. 

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