It's A Boil. No. It's a Bartholin's Cyst

It's A Boil. No. It's a Bartholin's Cyst

When you have a Bartholin Cyst

It started out with a tiny area close to my vagina feeling a little hard. It wasn’t painful, and I thought nothing of it; but by the third day it was beginning to hurt and it had grown in size.

I chalked it down to a boil that just happened to have sprung up for whatever reason, though it seemed strange, as this would be the first time that I would be having a boil in my nether regions. I didn’t bother seeing a doctor, and just decided to wait it out until the boil was ready to burst.

It was an excruciatingly painful wait. Sitting and walking were painful, and if I wanted to use the toilet, I had to mentally prepare myself, after about 5 days, I just felt something wet and instant relief – the boil had burst!

All was well until a year later, when I felt the familiar hardening in a tiny area, and to make it worse, I was pregnant! Arrrgh. This time, I told my gynaecologist, (but after it had burst) and that was when I heard the word for the first time – what had been bothering me was a Bartholin Cyst, which had become infected. He told me that if it occurred again, I should let him know about it. He explained that there was a procedure called Marsupialization, which they would perform, so that the cyst wouldn’t occur again.

Needless to say, the cyst did come back under a year, and I promptly went in for surgery.

It's A Boil. No. It's a Bartholin's Cyst

When a Bartholin cyst is infected, walking and sitting are very uncomfortable

What is a Bartholin Cyst?

The Bartholin’s glands are responsible for secreting fluid that lubricates the vagina. A Bartholin’s cyst is formed when a Bartholin’s gland gets blocked, probably as a result of injury or infection. The fluid backs up in the gland and becomes a cyst. When the cyst becomes infected, it fills up with pus and forms a painful abscess.

In Nigeria, there are more than 100,000 cases per year.


It's A Boil. No. It's a Bartholin's Cyst

Bartholin’s gland abscess/infection. (Image credit:

Treatment includes:

Sitz baths:

Sit in a warm bath for about 10 to 15 minutes for several times during the day for 3 to 4 days. You may also take painkillers to help alleviate the pain.

Warm compress:

Hold a flannel warmed with hot water against the cyst. You can do this several times a day as well.


Surgical procedures to treat an infected Bartholin’s cyst include:

Balloon Catheter Insertion – This process involves cutting the abscess and draining the cyst. After that, a thin plastic tube with a small inflatable balloon is placed inside the drained cyst and filled with a small amount of salt water.

New cells grow around the balloon catheter to form a drainage passage. This process could take 4 weeks or more, and after that the balloon will be drained and the catheter removed.

Marsupialization – This procedure involves draining the cyst, and stitching the edges of the skin to create a small ‘kangaroo pouch’, hence the name marsupialization. The pouch allows any further fluid to drain out.

Removal of the Bartholin’s Glands – You may opt to remove the Bartholin’s glands if previous treatments prove ineffective.

Bartholin Cyst Prevention

Maintain good hygiene and practice safe sex could help prevent a Bartholin’s cyst from becoming infected.


Mayo Clinic



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