10 April, 2018

Bartholin’s Cysts – The Rarely Discussed Nightmare

Now, ladies, this may well put you off your cornflakes but I think it needs talking about. If you have ever experienced the misery of Bartholin’s Cysts which then become Bartholin’s abscesses, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

bartholin's cysts can be extremely painful - young woman looking vexed.
Yes – this is one of those delightful gynaecological problems that can appear out of the blue and cause recurrent misery for years.

The Bartholin Glands are two pea-sized glands located slightly posterior and to the left and right of the opening of the vagina. Their function is to secrete mucus to lubricate the vagina. This lubrication may help make sex a little more comfortable for women.

Sometimes, however, these glands can become blocked which results in the formation of a Bartholin’s Cyst.  These cysts can grow in size so that it is actually painful to sit or walk.

Believe it or not, many women don’t even know that these glands exist.  And many cysts are not diagnosed until an examination such as a smear is carried out by a medical professional.  You can have a Bartholin’s cyst for years without it causing you too many problems.

If, however, infection occurs, the result is an incredibly painful Bartholin’s abscess which may require drainage or surgery to get rid of it.

Nobody seems to be entirely sure what causes these cysts – the usual suspects are all there, stress, poor hygiene, bad diet, STIs and, rarely vulval cancer.  For this reason, if you think you may have one you MUST go to your GP to get it checked out.

The peak age for getting these delightful swines is between 20-30 and in theory, once you reach menopause the Bartholin’s Glands are supposed to shrink so that you no longer suffer this problem. Great in theory but since I’m 51, rubbish in practice.

I had an abscess about 10 years ago and have a small Bartholin’s cyst at present so believe me I am speaking from experience here.

Treating a Bartholin’s Cyst

Usually, the first course of action to treat a possibly infected cyst is a course of antibiotics. In my experience this is a rather hit and miss method of treatment and, if the antibiotics cure the problem, there is no guarantee that it will not reappear.

Sitz Baths

At this stage, the home treatment advice tends to be to take over-the-counter painkillers and to take a sitz bath 3-4 times a day.

A sitz bath is a warm, shallow bath that cleanses the vulval area and can be used for everyday personal hygiene. It can also provide relief from pain or itching in the genital area.

You can give yourself a sitz bath in your bathtub or with a plastic kit that fits over your toilet.

Surgical Options

If an abscess does develop, the methods of treatment are usually drainage by the insertion of a Word catheter or, as I had done, marsupialization.

Marsupialization is the surgical technique of cutting a slit into an abscess or cyst and suturing the edges of the slit to form a continuous surface from the exterior surface to the interior surface of the cyst or abscess – in other words, creating a pouch which allows drainage.

My marsupialization was done as a day surgery appointment and the recovery time was quoted as being 2 weeks.  At least 6 weeks was closer to the mark and, what I was not told at the time, some sensitivity remains due to the scar tissue left behind.

Fear of surgery, particularly ‘down below’ leads many women to seek home cures and there are many sites which discuss the methods which have worked for them.

‘Home Cures’

These are some suggestions but please note that their success is anecdotal and reported on various forum boards.

The Homoeopathic Remedy Silicea 30C

Dose – 5 pellets under the tongue 2 or 3 times a day.

A homeopathic cure for a Bartholin's Cyst - Silicea 30C

Information on the Wisegeek.org website tells us that:-

“Silicea is derived from flint or quartz and is an abundant mineral naturally found in the Earth’s crust. Part of the structural makeup of bone and cartilage, the remedy is present in humans as a trace element. It can be found in connective tissues as well as hair, skin, and nails.

People who use this mineral believe that its cleansing effects make it particularly useful in treating dry skin, nails, or hair. This mineral is sometimes used to improve acne, blemishes, ulcers, boils, inflammation, or generally sickly skin. Infections from abscesses, skin eruptions, glass shards, and splinters may also be treated with it. Some people also use it in hopes of preventing hair loss and dandruff, and to reduce scar tissue visibility.” 

I am currently trying this cure at the moment which I found here.

Silica Complex

Now there is a great deal of confusion on the boards about whether the best cure is Silicea 30c (the homoeopathic remedy) or Silica Complex.  An example of what I mean is HERE and, confusingly, HERE.

Silica Complex is a dietary supplement which usually takes its Silica from Horsetail Extract and is combined with other vitamins and minerals.

These are the kind of tablets referred to.

Silica Complex Tablets - another possible remedy for a Bartholin's Cyst?

These are usually taken to help improve the quality of skin, hair and nails.  This particular tablet contains calcium, magnesium and zinc as well as the Horsetail extract.

Sitz Baths With Epsom Salts

As described above but with the addition of Epsom salts, also recommended for post-partum pain and haemorrhoids.  You can find a recipe HERE

You can also buy a sitz bath which is simply placed over the bowl of the toilet and filled so that you don’t have to undress to have a full bath each time.

Phoebe’s Cure

Hands up, I don’t know who Phoebe is but her ‘cure’ for Bartholin’s cysts is much talked about on the health boards.  It is simply this:-

6oz calamine lotion
1 teaspoon Tea Tree oil
1 teaspoon Witch Hazel

Soak a gauze pad in the solution and press against the cyst for about 30 minutes.


Dose: 2 a day on an empty tummy. I found mine here.

Serrapeptase is derived from the Silk Worm and is claimed to help eliminate inflammatory oedema and swelling by breaking down abnormal fluids and protein and by promoting the absorption of these decomposed products through blood and lymphatic vessels. It could also break down and liquefy mucus secretions and fibrin clots and help antibiotics to focus on infection.

There seems, however, to be insufficient clinical evidence to prove its efficacy in reducing Bartholin’s cysts.

Finally, you might be interested in a book you can download for Kindle entitled Bartholin Cyst Miracle Method.

The book promises to help us learn how many women have cured their Bartholin’s cysts and exactly what they did to treat them in the privacy of their own homes with no doctors or painful surgery. It promises to “reveal the exact method now used by countless women to get rid of their Bartholin’s cysts for good”.

Obviously, I am not a doctor and the first course of action, if you suspect that you have a Bartholin’s cyst, is to see your GP.

It would be remiss of me to suggest that you go off gung-ho and try these without prior discussion with your healthcare provider.

But let’s live in the real world, shall we?

If the provision of gynaecological services were better in the UK and if doctors were a little more sympathetic to problems like this, then the health boards of various forums would be a lot less busy.

The number one response of GPs to any gynae problem seems to be a combination of antibiotics and Canesten.

Women know their own bodies better than any GP but this knowledge does not help them to make themselves heard when it matters most.

I will continue with my antibiotics and Silicea 30c.  I will try sitz baths and add a silica complex supplement to my diet.

Since I had my marsupialization I have had no further problem on that side (right), other than frequent irritation from the scar tissue.  I hope that I don’t have to go through the whole process again on the left!

Bartholin’s cysts and abscesses are incredibly frustrating because there is a reluctance to treat them until the level of discomfort and/or infection is intolerable to the sufferer.

Is it any wonder that many of us, at least those of us who are brave enough to talk about it, are desperately seeking our own cure and would prefer to trust the anecdotal evidence of other women than our overstretched NHS.

Please see your GP before trying any of the supplements listed above.

Update 2018

Since this post was first published in 2016 I have had no further reoccurrences of Bartholin’s Cysts.  If I have a ‘twinge’, I rely on the homoeopathic remedy Silicea 30c and Serrapeptase tablets and if that hasn’t settled matters, go back to my GP for a course of antibiotics.  The marsupialization of my abscess did, for all intents and purposes, work.

Update 2019

I am now under the care of a women’s health physio and I cannot recommend her highly enough.  Prior to reading Me & My Menopausal Vagina by the marvellous Jane Lewis, I did not even know this type of physio existed.

Basically, a women’s health physio treats all disorders affecting the pelvis and pelvic floor. So this would include things such as incontinence, prolapse, pelvic pain and constipation.  There is growing evidence that physiotherapy can alleviate and in many cases cure the symptoms of these.

Why is this important you may wonder?

Because I receive a thorough internal examination by someone who is far more experienced in recognising things like Bartholin’s Cysts and abscesses – and more interested in helping resolve them.

I pay to see her privately and of course, I appreciate that not everyone has the funds to do this, but for years I have had a Simply Health Cash Plan which allows you to claim for the first couple of sessions on your policy.  This is enough to gauge whether you think a women’s health physio will be helpful to you.

Note that you will be examined internally (but discretely and with utmost care) but all the vaginal symptoms you have been wondering about can be diagnosed – for example, vaginal atrophy and lichen sclerosis.

Thanks to my physio (Gilliam McCabe in Cardiff), I have now been re-referred to the gynae department of our local hospital to have my vaginal atrophy examined.  However, were a Bartholin’s Cyst to be diagnosed, I am sure that your chances of seeing a specialist would be dramatically increased by a letter from your women’s health physio.

Earlier this year the gland on the right side appeared to be swollen slightly and it looks as if I was about to get another Bartholin’s cyst.  I was advised to see the GP and received a course of antibiotics which appeared to calm the gland down again.

Thankfully the ‘twinge’ seems to have gone but I have learned that related health conditions seem to affect what goes on down below in general.

One of these is constipation so I have upped my water intake by buying one of those water bottles with a built-in straw which gives you set amounts to drink every two hours. I have also just invested in psyllium husk capsules to soften the stool and also a squatty potty so that evacuation is done in the correct posture.

Stress also seems to play a part in blocking the glands so I would recommend a book on mindful thinking or meditation.

Sleep is vital for coping with these evil little buggers so my recent investments have included new earplugs and a sleep mask which blocks out early morning sunshine.  I am trying to get myself to go to bed earlier but I’m still working on it!

I also use lubricants by Yes.org on a regular basis, their water-based and oil-based lubricants and also their vaginal moisturiser.  I have now been prescribed Ovestin estrogen cream to use twice a week (or as and when as the amount of ‘HRT’ contained in the cream is minuscule.

All of this is important because for years, many of us ignore our vaginas and don’t consider that we need a routine to care for them as we do for any other part of the body.

If you suffer from Bartholin’s cysts, you need to get to know your body to manage the condition. You may find that you start to recognise when the glands are getting blocked (for example it may hurt when you become aroused).  If you know what you are dealing with, it takes a little of the fear away and you are better able to tell your doctor (not ask!) what you need.

The reassurance I get from visiting a women’s health physio is worth her fee a hundred times over.

Self-treatment can and does sometimes work but at any sign of an infection which makes you feel ill, then you must see a doctor.

What has become clear, since writing this post, is that many women are suffering from a Bartholin’s Cyst and yet there doesn’t seem to be any treatment other than antibiotics, catheters or marsupialisation.

Time for a lot more research to be done – don’t you think?

As ever I am happy to answer any questions you may have and if I can’t answer them then I’ll try to find someone who can.

And remember, you are not alone – and I do understand how utterly miserable Bartholin’s Cysts can make you feel and how painful a Bartholin’s Abscess can be.



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71 responses to “Bartholin’s Cysts – The Rarely Discussed Nightmare”

  1. Allison Hall says:

    I’m in the US and NOBODY talks about this. I first got my BC at age 17; I’m now 37. 20 F***ing years!!! I had the marsupial surging when I was 18. When I get flare ups I can drain the BC o my own. I’m sitting in a sitz bath as I type this. I agree this has messed with my self confidence and wanting to be intimate with someone. It took me awhile to get comfortable. My husband has been through it with me. Very understanding. To all the woman that feel or felt alone you are not.

  2. Cat says:

    Thank you for this post! I’m currently on my 3 cyst. The. 1st one happened in January, it swelled up so bad but it went away on its own. The 2nd one happened in May and it was so large and uncomfortable that i went to my gyn to make sure it was nothing cancerous or serious. My doctor told me it was normal and she offered to drain it but it could also go away on its own it I could bare the pain. The thought of getting it drained terrified me so I resisted the pain until it got super small and I forgot about it. It was all good until that same small cyst I forgot about blew up to the size of a gulf ball in the matter of 24 hrs and I was screaming from the pain! I had never experienced a pain so strong in my life, I’m 26 and i don’t have any children, so childbirth is still not in the picture. But anyways I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t pee. I was so swollen. My boyfriend took me to an urgent care and they said they could drain it but that i should go the the ER instead because a specialist could come down to see me. So that seemed fairly honest of him so we went to the ER. I was examined by 7 doctors and they were all surprised at how enormous the cyst was. Two of them were gyn drs two females, they hurt me so bad while examining me and after 5 hours of waiting they decided to not drain it and to send me home with antibiotics. I was so upset. Only antibiotics and Motrin?! I went home and started the meds right away but the next day I woke up. Even worse! This time my boyfriend took me to another hospital and the gyn drs at the ER were so gentle and reassured me that I would feel better after they drained the cyst with the catheter. The procedure was traumatizing though, I was on very strong pain killers but the local anesthesia in the area was horrific. They sent me home with more antibiotics and pain killers and I followed up with my gyn dr in 10 days. The catheter was uncomfortable, the incision stung like hell when I had to pee, I work in an office so I had to go back to work after 3 days and I opted for using a small cup to bring with me to the bathroom. I filled it with warm water and rinsed myself every time I had to go to relieve the sting a little. I was feeling so much better in a week. My dr took out the catheter and everything seemed better. I waited another week to have intercourse because it still felt tender and just 3 weeks later here I am with yet another cyst this time on my left side. I feel like intercourse made me clogged again. I’m so depressed. I had a panic attack on my way to work between the despair of getting another cyst from hell and the excruciating pain. I turned around and came back home. I took some ibuprofen and Tylenol left over from my previous cyst and I must say this time around I’ve been able to handle the pain a little better. I had a very bad fever all day but that went away, I’m taking some antibiotics and I have a drs appt tomorrow as a follow up from my previous cyst, so my dr will have a wonderful surprise when she sees the gulf ball I have on my left side. Ugh. I honestly am trying to have it go away on its own, I’m doing the warm compresses and tea tree oil and well as some sitz baths since the pain is a little more tolerable, I don’t want to go through the draining with a catheter process again. I have a question though, when it drains….where does it come out of? I’ve been a little scared to check myself down there because of all the swelling but is
    There a specific area where I’m supposed to put the tea tree oil or I’m also willing to try the phoebes treatment, I’m just puzzled to what area specifically it goes on to…can someone please help ? Thank you!!!

    • linda says:

      Hi Cat – I’m so sorry to hear your experience. I am unsure why nobody has suggested marsupialisation instead of draining with a catheter which sounds a bit old fashioned these days. I think you should have waited much longer than 3 weeks before having sex though just in case you introduced any kind of infection to the area. Nobody seems to know why we get these things but I wonder if there is another specialist you could be referred to? In the meantime I would try regular sitz baths (you can buy one cheaply on Amazon) with some epsom salts or just warm water but I don’t think I would blast the cyst with tea tree or anything really astringent since you are recovering from the catheter. Your boyfriend is going to have to wait as it is more important that you heal properly.

  3. Miranda says:

    Thanks for your update! I think you are right about the factors like getting enough sleep and stress and intestinal flora. Because thats exactly where i was coping with at the time when i got the cysts. These things in total affect the immunesystem. Also I read that scientifically a connection with the intestinal flora to something else I’m coping with: rosacea. Now I’ taking probiotics to support the flora and immunesystem, skip milkproducts and lower the sugar intake. I already see change with the rosacea and now i hope i can prevent this cyst too! Are there more readers who are trying this too?

  4. Bryanna says:

    I’m so distrought by how little info there is on what to do.
    I’m so uncomfortable talking about this but I feel so comfortable talking about my experience on here.
    I’m 26 years old, 27 in November, no kids& not married- I got my first one back in Janurary of 2019, I discovered it on my left side after cleaning myself in the shower. I didn’t notice any tenderness until actually touching it. Naturally I freaked out and instantly started to try and pop it any way possible because it was the size of a marble, and randomly after a few minutes of messing with it it ruptured internally, no pus came out, There was no absess or boil or (pimple type) head to it at all, it just went from a marble to compeletly gone within 10 minutes ago finding it. I have had the same partner for 5 years and hadn’t had sex for a month already due to realrionship issues, & finding the cyst occured the day after masturbation.. I did research and discovered what it was.. it was the only thing that linked and made sense.
    It went away and I hadn’t had an issue since, until the first week of June 2019 it came back.. this time since the first one I have been single since the end of January, and still have not had any new partners.. also again after masturbation from the previous night. ( I’m extremely hygenic btw I take showers daily, And the shower is typically when I have my alone timee, so also extremely clean) At this point I’m convinced I should never masturbate ever again. And did the same thing I originally did the first time where I tried to pop it to get it to rupture. It went away again for a day but came back a few days later. I decided to make an appointment for Planned Parenthood since I don’t have insurance nor the money for it, but couldn’t get in until the following week. Randomly it went away for a day and came back another day or two after. At this point I’ve had three back to back within 1 week and half. They start as a pea when I notice them and quicy become a marble size after an hour of catching it. I discovered the witch hazel and tea tree oil methods where I kept that on a cotton pad for a full day which probably wasn’t smart. The cyst went away the day of my appointment (of course) but I was extremely raw and had three little tears from being raw. They were so nice but almost clueless about what I was experiencing. She was very understanding tho, and told me to actually not do the tea tree or witch hazel since it’s an estringent (I don’t think I’ll listen, I’ll just not leave it on as long). she said I looked really good and was extremely healthy, I did a PAP and testing just in case of anything from my ex but Im not worried about STIs, Rather I’m more worried about it being cancerous, but she reassured me I looked perfectly healthy other than being irritated from the rememdy, she didn’t see anything abnormal. After my appointment I was compeletly fine & I continued also with sit baths and I thought I was in the clear I felt great. I took extra precaution I changed my underwear material, I eat extremely healthy and only drink water. I have lost 50 lbs total since my break up (healthy- I was 189 lbs now 139) I do yoga and take time for myself. I do stress due to my ex screwing up my life but am the most healthiest than I have ever been, and don’t have high blood pressure. I haven’t had sex in over 7 months. Yet seeing the doctor at planned Parenthood in the middle of June, my period came last week and it’s July 24th, the end of my period it came back about 2.5 days ago. I don’t wear tampons because they extremely uncomfortable and cause my cramps to highten so I wear pads. At this point I think that’s why I came back because I have obtained from everything out of fear. I have been planning a trip to connect with my guy best friend (benefits) and this is weekend for the trip. & At this point now scared to even getting aroused which could cause more blockage. I don’t understand why now, this last month has been horrible with this cyst just playing with my emotions and progress of progression of coming out of depression. I’ve been doing everything right as a woman trying to take care of my body and mental health trying to pull myself out of the abyss of depression and this has to happen to me shoving me deeper in. I would say I am fortunate it has never once became and absess or boil or a golf ball or had sepsis. I constantly deal with extreme nausea on a daily basis for the last 5 years, the last few days have been a little intense vs the last few weeks, I have woken up in a sweat but usually due to my nausea that wakes me up any way in the early morning (5am-7am). So it’s hard for me to figure out if this has made my nausea worse. I donate plasma as well regularly and they do blood tests as well which also informs me if anything changes with my blood which nothing has.
    I’m crying as I write this. I’m just mortified and want to move on and be happy and if it’s not one thing it’s another.

    • linda says:

      Hi Bryanna

      You have been through the mill, haven’t you! Firstly I’m a little concerned about your mentioning nausea. Have you had this checked out – do you think that it is caused by your anxiety? In terms of masturbation, I honestly don’t think that’s the cause and, to me (again with the usual caveat that I am NOT medically qualified), keeping sexually active may well unblock, not block the gland. Whilst of course I understand that all (well, most) of us need regular sex, I get the sense that you feel there is something wrong if you don’t have a sexual partner. There absolutely is not and rather than get yourself in a state about the guy with benefits, I would take some time out to heal both in terms of your body but also from your last relationship. Also, I think you need a second opinion about your gynae situation. It’s common in my experience for us Bartholin’s sufferers to know that one is brewing without there being anything for a doctor to see. You just know. When that happens to me, my doc gives me a short course of antibiotics to see it off which generally works. Not ideal, I know. I would cut back on the witch hazel and tea tree oil if they are giving you tears and in fact I wouldn’t ‘overwash’ the area to make everything even more sensitive. But I do think you need to take time out and to give yourself a break. It’s easy to be terrified by these darn things but remind yourself that very often your body will heal without surgical intervention. I struggle with that belief myself but you know it is true. Why not keep a diary of your symptoms too and anything you’re doing to treat it. Add in how you are feeling, what you’re eating, even what soap powder you are using for your laundry and see if there is any sort of pattern or trigger for you. Stress is definitely my number one trigger and, I suspect, it may be yours too.

  5. Miranda says:

    Hi there! Thanks very much for all this info. I’m gonna try the Silicea and Serrapeptase too. I have my secknd cyste. First one I hadnt got a clue and thought it was my fault, thinking about different reasons I got it: wearing a thong, getting a wax or didnt pee right after sex etc. This week I got a second one, very heavy, very painful experience at the hospital and got a balloon drain. Now I’m reading about it more and it quite upsets me that it can come back and that its still not clear whst the exact reasons can be and what are the do’s and don’ts. This article is very helpful, thnx. I also found a video from dr Robert Morse. He’s talking about the lymph system and kidney. This also made me thinking. This is the link (forward to 50:00 min)

  6. Vivi says:

    Hello. What made my cyst burst in only a few hours was to put a thin slice of fresh garlic over it. It stings for about 15mins. Be brave. It makes it burst like a wonder. Mine was getting big real fast. I’m doing vinegar and salt sitz.

  7. Tanya says:

    I was having a feeling of pressure on my lady parts, so I went to the GYN. they found a 1 centimeter lump. 3 months later I felt like my “lips down there” we’re rubbing together more noticeably. went back to Dr. And it had grown to 2-1/2 almost 3 centimeters. I have no pain from it, but I felt like it was becoming more firm. I’ve tried Phobies method and now it just burns like crazy down there. It did soften a little though. Oh, and I did sits bath with Epsom salt. I’m just afraid it’s going to become painful if I don’t do something now. But what if all I’m doing makes it worse. Does it need to get to the point of pain from abscess to pop and drain? Should I keep treating it, or should I just leave it alone. I mean I’ve had a lump for 3 months. I’d think if I’ve had it that long it must be draining a little somehow or it would be huge. Please someone give me advise.

    • linda says:

      It does sound like a cyst but I suspect that it won’t be treated unless it turns into an abscess. At this stage there is probably nothing to drain. Have you been back to the GYN? I would leave it alone unless it is painful because you may be irritating your vulval skin. Have you been checked for other skin conditions such as Lichen Sclerosis where you get raised patches of white skin? I would definitely return the GYN and ask for another check – you might need to be quite firm with them. Have you had antibiotics to take in case on infection also? If you are in the UK you can visit a sexual health or GUM clinic without a referral and may get a more sensible answer. If you leave it alone you may find it goes away of its own accord. I am not a doctor, however, I do think you need another check.

      • Tanya says:

        I’m in the USA. I’ve been Gyn twice now checking on it. I plan another visit to see what other treatment options there are. My Gyn is quite old and I trust he knows what it is for sure. I just find it odd that most of what I’ve read from women is it seems to happen quickly within days. I’ve had this for months. The Epsom salt has really softened it and I have far less rubbing down there.
        I’m kind of nervous to have sex because if that’s the gland that lubricates the vagina, won’t it fill up with the mucus even more during sex because it is blocked. I don’t want it to grow larger. Am I correct in thinking this?
        Thanks for your advise.

        • linda says:

          I am not medically qualified but, from my recent experience with a Women’s Health Physio, I think that keeping circulation going to the area would be beneficial and more likely to unblock the gland rather than block it. When you say it happens quickly for some women, I suspect they are referring to the move from cyst to abscess, where the cyst becomes infected and there is pus. I would continue having sex unless it is causing you pain and the cyst becomes irritated. Again, you really need a gynae’s opinion on that.

  8. Jen says:

    Hi, I was wondering if it is possible to have a Bartholin Cyst that causes discomfort and yet not be able to actually see a cyst in that area. Maybe my (left) Bartholin gland is infected or obstructed, but no cyst has grown or the cyst is small. If I wear undies or clothes that are fitting in any way (ie: leggings), it really hurts. I have had a LOT of tenderness on the left side and first I tried wearing looser underwear, then looser pants, and for a while now, I have finally stopped wearing underwear because I can’t stand the discomfort. I wear a nightgown to sleep in and that helps a lot but when I wear pants again during the day (even loose pants), the pressure on that area when I sit or if the pants touch the area makes it painful and it worsens over the course of the day. I should add that there is no sign of anything on my skin and I don’t feel any lump. When I touch the area, it just feels very tender. This has been going on for over a year. Also, I had my normal pelvic exam at my GP’s office last year with Pap smear and that was normal. When I was there, I told my doctor about it and asked her if it could be a lymph node but she said the lymph nodes seem fine. I would love to hear back! I really need advice. Thanks so much!

    • linda says:

      Hi Jen – I’m no doctor but that sounds like vulvodynia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulvodynia. Have you asked also about vaginal atrophy? You don’t mention your age but if you are perimenopausal or menopausal that may be a factor. I recommend you read Jane Lewis’ “Me & My Menopausal Vagina” which has some great advice even if you aren’t menopausal. Ask your GP about these conditions and see what they say. It may be a cyst brewing but it’s been going on for quite a while.

  9. Max says:

    I suffered with a Bartholin Cyst for 2 years . First time I had it , I went to the hospital and they drain it and used a catheter . However, it did not drain fully and continued reoccurring . Every time it popped up I would suffer in pain and tried all the Natural remedies which would eventually work after a few days of suffering,but nothing permanent – the cyst continued to reoccurr every few months . Mine would be extremely painful , large , and debilitating, but I was afraid of getting a Marsupiliazation due to the stories I read on internet message boards. Finally , I had one that was just too painful and I could not move and was in tears , my boyfriend took me to the hospital and the doctor performed a marsupialization- Thank goodness ! I wish I would have gotten it sooner! It has been two years since I had one and I am so grateful . I would not wish an infected batholin cyst on my worse enemy. This story is just to share that Marsupilations are successful and so worth it… I am a huge natural remedy advocate, and tried everything for 2 years , but in this case I recommend getting the procedure done if youre experience a reoccurring and painful cyst. Hope this message helps someone who is unsure on what to do and needs advice!!!

  10. Trice P says:

    This is my very first one in my life and I’m 47 I have my appt in a few hours with my OBGYN. but when I woke up this am it had began to leak so I put witch hazel on a gauze and keep switching it out until I get to the Dr and it actually is beginning to feel and look better, I’m still going to the Dr but I feel like wth didn’t I use witch hazel in the 1st freaking place , but I also know I need to change my diet because it’s poor . Any recommendations on what kind of foods I should eat more of to prevent this from happening again ?

    • linda says:

      I’m glad your cyst is on the way out but I’ve not yet come across anything that refers to a link with diet. I have read that disease cannot flourish in an alkaline body but whether that is true I don’t know. Diets high in acid forming foods are said to cause inflammation. Could you consult a qualified nutritionist?

  11. Kayleigh says:

    Hi, I’ve just started to develop my fourth bartholin cyst in about 10 years.
    I’m not sure if you’re aware but there’s a really quick and painless way to get rid of them (well it works for me).
    Get magnesium sulphate paste and apply to the cyst. Cover with something like a cotton pad or gauze and leave over night. It helps to bring the pus to the surface.
    I also have multiple hot baths (as hot as I can stand) through the day.
    Keep repeating the paste and hot baths.
    This method has worked for me EVERY time so far and the cyst bursts on its own WITHIN 24 HOURS!!!
    I really hope this helps someone as much as it has helped me.
    As for the cause, I’m pretty sure mine happen when I’m really stressed, and also if my knickers have pinched that area in the night when I’ve been asleep…Sorry tmi.

    • linda says:

      Hi Kayleigh – thanks for sharing. I think what you’ve discovered may be ‘Phoebe’s cure’ referred to in my post and it’s great to hear that something works! I’d suggest leaving your underwear off at night though to ‘air’ the area. Sometimes I suspect that wearing knicker liners or pads constantly might be responsible for blocking the glands too.

  12. Vee says:

    I’m 29 and have had 6 bartholin cyst in the last 10 years. It’s awful and traumatizing. I had marsupialization twice in two different countries. What makes it more frustrating is that I am a nurse but I couldnt help myself. Now, I’m having another one at the moment and still trying to do sitz bath as I am hoping it will help. *fingers crossed* I dont know how will antibiotic help if the cyst is not infected. I’m pretty sure it’s not infected but it’s getting painful. Last time I had a word catheter put on it was the most traumatizing day of my life bec the GP has put me on local anesthetics plus nitro inhaler but she didnt even wait for it to take in effect and incised me straight away. I’ve asked one gyne about the reason why I keep on having this and she just said that the only reason is that we’re “unlucky”. 🙁 I know this thoughts is not helping me now but thank you for this article.

  13. Shen says:

    Thanks a lot for this article, it is so helpful! I am 22 and been dealing with these for 3 years now.
    Last year in December I got mine drained surgically at the ER, and a word catheter was inserted. Never got one for 8 months, I thought that was the end of it. Then I got one again in August, one in September, and I’m currently suffering from a new one, which is why I ended up here. It is still crazy how there seems to be no research done on the subject, but I have witnessed the growth in information available online from 2015 to now, so at least we have some other sources of information haha.
    I’m seeing my gynec in January and I am hoping to get a marsupialization done. Since you had one done too, I wanted to ask: did you have to be cyst-free when the procedure was done?
    Also, how effective was the silica complex compared to silica 30c? Sitz baths have been useless to me, and hot compresses with tea tree and witch hazel have not helped much either, so I am looking for some other home remedies lol.
    Thanks again!

    • linda says:

      Silica Complex will help hair, skin and nails so it’s a good general supplement to take. I take the Silica 30c (the homeopathic remedy) – 6 pillules under the tongue is the starting dose. If I feel any ‘rumblings’, this is what I take, together with Serrapeptase in the morning before eating. Now I have no idea if either of these actually work but they feel as if they do. You don’t have to be cyst free for the marsupialization as far as I’m aware.

  14. Christi says:

    Is it safe to have sex as long as its not painful and small? Mine is about the size of a marble.

    • linda says:

      I did to be honest. I think it’s not a problem if the cyst isn’t infected and has become an abscess. If it doesn’t cause you any pain I wouldn’t worry too much.

  15. Melissa says:

    Hi, It’s so hard to talk about this subject, I’m 24 years old and I’m currently going through my third bartholyn cyst, I went to the gynaecologist for the 3 of them because I was in so much pain I couldn’t even walk, in the first two I got it drained and they put a tube for 2 weeks, but on this one since it’s smaller the doctor gave me antibiotics which I feel is a longer process of pain, because with the surgery the pain goes as soon as they open the cyst. I’ve been with antibiotics for a week now and I still have it, it doesn’t hurt so much (it might be because of all the pain killers) but it’s still there, I’m frustrated, Depressed, I don’t wish this to anyone. I recently purchased silica pills, I’m taking 3 per day, today is my second day plus antibiotics and warm baths. Let’s see if it goes away.

    • linda says:

      Hi Melissa I am so sorry you are going through this. It’s probably of little consolation but you are not alone in dealing with these horrible little suckers. The antibiotic I was given was metronidazole – quite a strong one (and you mustn’t drink any alcohol when you take it). If you’ve been given just a broad spectrum one it might not be enough. Be careful not to take too many painkillers or mix the types. I have read about good results from serrapeptase (you can find them on Amazon). As usual this is all anecdotal and not medically researched but it might be worth a try. A sitz bath may help you to give the area a good soak too.

  16. Dinah says:

    I had the first Bartholin Cyst on my right and had marsupialiazation done 3 months ago. I had the second on the left side and had marsupialization done last Monday. I just hope and pray this would be the last and hopefully it will not recur. By the way, is there any prevention or supplement to take from preventing recurrence. Thanks

    • linda says:

      Serrapeptase supplement is the one I have read some ladies have had success with but there is no clinically researched medication other than antibiotics I believe. As you know I’m not a Dr and lots of the reports I read are anecdotal and what works for one may not work for another. I have everything crossed for you that your cysts won’t reoccur.

  17. DeeDee says:

    I had one cut and drained 10 + years ago but the scar has been a constant issue. It’s become more like a deep scared fissure. Constantly irritated for any issue. I have to bath several times a day to keep it from being itchy and even then it not a guarantee that it will ever heal.
    It feels stretched if sex is not lubricated and will bleed from the irritation of sex, wiping, and itching.
    At this point it has split open and rehealed a hundred times and now the area and looks like a side vagina. I’m thinking of asking the doctor to sew it together again.
    It’s been checked and I’ve been told over and over again that it’s not infected but it’s such a daily problem for me when the issue starts.

    • linda says:

      You poor thing. It definitely sounds as if it needs restitching and you need a second opinion from someone who knows what they’re doing. You should not be going through this. My scar site is still occasionally irritable too.

  18. Catie says:

    I have had abscesses on and off for the past 7 years – first one at 35 years old. I’ve had it drained twice and had the word catheter, but theyve still come back. Finally saw a doctor yesterday who actually discussed long term solutions, rather than just antibiotics and off you go, come back if it gets worse. So thin it that maybe it will be marsupilization for me. I need something doing, can’t keep on like this.

    • linda says:

      I had my worse one at around that age too. Mine hasn’t come back after the marsupialisation although I have had a few ‘rumblings’ which have been stopped in their tracks by antibiotics – usually Metronidazole – which is the really strong one that you mustn’t have any alcohol with or it will make you sick. I do think you have to push your doctors to get them to take action.

  19. Marcie says:

    I’m 23 and think I’m currently dealing with my first one, or at least my first bad one. About a year ago I noticed one side of vulva was slightly hard and swollen, but within a few days it went away painlessly. Now, not only is one side (the same side) hard and a bit swollen, but it hurts when I sit certain ways and when I walk. I have a very uneasy stomach so reading up on them has made the whole thing way more uncomfortable then it already is and I’m just ready for it to go away. My emotions have been through the roof, too! I’m uncomfortable and crying and honestly a little terrified of it popping on its own because I don’t know how to handle that but I’m also terrified of going to the doctor over it because the procedure I’ve seen explained seems pretty intimidating. I’m probably going to go to the store and try out Sophie’s cure when I get off work today. I’ve bathed the past two nights with Epsom salts and that hasn’t seemed to help at all either. I just want someone to tell me it’ll all be alright at this point

    • linda says:

      I would go and see your doctor. It is likely that, if surgery or a catheter is needed that would be done in hospital. It is important that you get it checked to ensure that it is not infected which can make you feel very poorly. If you have an upset stomach, are running a temperature or are feeling shivery then that might be the case. It’s possible that it isn’t a bartholin’s cyst so you really need to know what you are dealing with rather than just relying on home remedies at this stage. These things are very common – they are just not talked about enough – so please try to relax a little but seek proper medical care to put your mind at rest.

  20. Alexis says:

    I’m 24 and have had a reoccurring cyst since for 5 years now. The cyst become an abscess 4 times. I had it lanced with a word catheter, but it returned. On the 3rd cyst my doctor recommended marsupialisation, which I agreed to. I could not exercise or have intercourse for 5 weeks, which I followed. I changed my diet to eating really healthy and drinking plenty of water. I had my surgery in August 2018 & felt great, but couldn’t walk for long periods of time until after 5 weeks. It’s now October 2018 and I saw the cyst returned & has now became an abscess. Very upsetting & the home remedies don’t seem to help me. Hopefully you will have more luck with the marsupialisation.

    • linda says:

      I am so sorry to hear this. Unless you’ve had one of these things you have no idea how much they wear you down and sap your confidence. I might be wrong but I thought that reoccurrence on the marsupialised site was unusual. Is yours in exactly the same place on your surgery site? I would say (again I’m NOT a doctor) that 5 weeks recovery time seems very short if that’s what you were told. I was told at least 6 and in reality it took months. I’m not sure I could have stood intercourse after just 6 weeks. I hope you have gone back to your doctor and told them that you are really unhappy and that the surgery hasn’t worked.

  21. Justine says:

    I think I’m on about my 7th or 8th abscess. I was lucky enough to get a break from them for about 2 years and thought I was out of the woods. Now it’s back with a vengeance I’m sure. I wish there was more information about what causes these painful things! The first one I had, I went to urgent Care and they incise and drained and put a catheter in it for a week. I got another one about a month later that popped on its own the day before my appt with the gynecologist. Still went to the appt and discusses surgery but Dr didn’t recommend it. I’ve had several since and just let them pop on their own. Hope we get some answers soon ladies!

  22. Marj says:

    Hi, so I want to try this but just wanted to know if I can take serrapeptase and silicea together? Or
    Do I have to wait a couple hours between them?

    • linda says:

      Hi Marj – I’m not a doctor so I can’t give you professional advice. My serrapeptase says to take it on an early stomach first thing in the morning so I’d do that and then take the silicea later. I’d still make sure to go to the doctors though in case you need antibiotics.

  23. Lulu says:

    I have my 3rd. Both had to be marsupialized. And I don’t know what to do to keep it from happening. I will be adding these supplements just in case. I’m 31. These started last year.

  24. Lauren says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I am 22 and have been dealing with this for 4 years now. They come and go about every 3 months. Usually they are big and painful to the point where I have to take off work. Eventually they pop and drain on their own but a little bump is always left there. I am debating marsupialization but I am scared… they said my cyst is deep down and scaring may occur. Advice?

    • linda says:

      I think you need them to be specific about how much scarring. Scar tissue does heal at a slow rate and to this day I have very occasional sensitivity there but you learn to live with it and it is far better than the pain of the Bartholin’s. Could you have a word with your gynae and ask them outright for a clearer picture of what they are seeing?

      • Lauren says:

        Thank you Linda. I will have to ask those questions. Can you tell me about your experience… You said your recovery was about 6 weeks. How was that process? I understand if this is too personal of a question but do you experience any discomfort during periods or sexual activity now?

        • linda says:

          Healing took around 6 weeks but I still had mild sensitivity for a few years afterwards. I didn’t have any discomfort during periods and not particularly during sexual activity either. I don’t remember too much about the healing process, only that I was relieved to get rid of my abscess which was the size of a golf ball! A brilliant product to use for vaginal discomfort is the water-based lubricant made by the Yes company. I’d say something like that would definitely help you weather any discomfort.

  25. AmyJ says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Helps to not feel so alone when I get these horrible Bartholins cysts. I got my first one at 45 and 9 months later my second. What worked for me both times and too less than 24 hours was getting preparation H wipes that have 50% witch hazel and inserting them right on the cysts and changing them every few hours. Sitting on a heating pad off and on. And then that liberating feeling when the cyst bursts and the fever subsides.

  26. Daria says:

    My first bartholin abscess was in December 2017, second was in March and now in May its happening again as I am writing. Its making me feel depressed and i feel like crying because i know how horrible the pain is. I tried everything, changed diet, started taking vitamins, stopped wearing thongs and any other tight clothing, bought feminine soap, sleep with no underwear but the darn thing still comes back and i have no idea of what to do. Marzipulation sounds like the best option but i dont want to have the scar tissue left behind. I let it pop and drain on its own with multiple sitz baths and antibiotic cream seemed to help it. But what is the cause of this? I did smear test and its clean, i have no infection in my mucus and everything is clean and healthy inside too. I really wish someone could explain this to me. I am 26 years old and i really dont like the idea of it recurring every 2,5 months.

    • linda says:

      Hi Daria – you don’t say whether you have seen a gynaecologist about this but it sounds as if home management isn’t sufficient in your case. I will be honest and say that my scar tissue (which is very small by the way) does occasionally give me the odd niggle but the cyst has never come back over 13 years. Could you talk to your doc or gynae about the procedure and what is involved to put your mind at rest?

      • Daria says:

        Hi Linda,
        I actually have seen 3 gynaes, 1 told me not to do any procedure and the other 2 suggested drainage under anesthesia. I have told them about doing marzipulation but they say its a big operation that will require me to stay in hospital for 2-3 days. I live in North Cyprus its an unrecognized country so i cant really trust them here however i can go to europe if i want to proceed. One more question. When i first had bartholin abscess, it hurt to the point of me crying all day long and took about 4-5 days to pop, second time it hurt a lot but i had more panic in me from the previous one, however it popped in 2 days. And third which is now is the second day, it hurts but bearable. Does it get easier with each or is it just by luck?

        • linda says:

          Daria, I’ve only had the one so I can’t really answer that I’m afraid. I suspect it is a question of luck or perhaps you are just getting used to the discomfort. I am really sorry you are having to go through this.

          • Daria says:

            You are so lucky, i really wish there was some kind of an explanation to this. Can you tell me your marzipulation experience? How was it, what did they do and how did you feel during and after it? I am so afraid of doctors, never had any serious injuries or operations before ever, so i am dreading about it. Was it painful to get it done? How long did it take? And did doctors say it might come on the other side ?

          • linda says:

            Daria, it was a simple procedure for which I was a day surgery patient. The cyst was removed under general anaesthesia and I went home the same day. All they do is drain the cyst and then create a pocket or a flap with the skin surrounding it. This is then stitched up (You’ll need to check with your doc in case the procedure has changed). I had minor discomfort afterwards and some sensitivity of the scar tissue for a year or so – nothing major just occasional discomfort. Mine was a very large cyst though. Forgive me but have you talked to anyone about your fear of doctors? It would be a shame if you continued to suffer when a relatively simple procedure could sort out this issue for you.

          • Daria says:

            Thank you so much for this. I will rethink it. I didnt talk to anyone about my fear but i think i can do it, i mean if its going to make me feel better then why not right?
            Thanks so much for talking to me, i was really feeling alone in this. Have a good day

          • linda says:

            Daria, you can always message me if you need to talk. I’m @lindahobbis on Twitter or @motherdistracted on FB. x

          • Carol says:

            It breaks my heart to hear of so many women suffering over and over again with these cysts. I was scared just like you Daria and joined an online support group. That made me even more scared.. so many women suffering, failed attempts at home remedies, failed attempts at the doctor, multiple recurrence, and so much pain. My doctor told me that marsupialization was the only treatment with the highest chance of non-recurrence. She would not even recommend lancing or word catheter because she has seen it fail over and over. In her experience, noone had ever come back complaining that the marsupialization failed or that there was recurrence. I certainly didn’t want to live in constant fear of pain and recurrence like I was witnessing so many women do. I prayed a lot and trusted the advice of my doctor. I was put under general anesthesia and the surgery itself only took like 5 minutes. I was very groggy from the medications, but was able to return home the same day. I was able to resume all activities except exercise, intercourse, and bathing (shower was ok). I had hardly any pain at all. I did not have to take any pain medication at all during recovery. I did have an antibiotic because she said there was some infection. After 2 weeks, I was healing well. There was a stitch or 2 that was not fully dissolved, so I was advised to wait another 2 weeks before resuming activities. Upon my return, stitches were all gone and I was cleared to resume activities, but the doctor suggested to refrain from intercourse for another 2 weeks because the wound is still a little raw and would get irritated by friction. She wanted to allow more time for healing. Six weeks was nothing to sacrifice compared to the years of torment living in fear and pain. I am so happy to feel normal again. If you can have the surgery done in Europe, find someone who has a good success rate and comes highly recommended. I know there are women who have had the surgery whose results were less than optimal, so you must be confident in the doctor you choose. Good luck to you!! Wishing for the very best!!

      • Lizzt says:

        Hi Linda. Thank you so much for this article. I had my first cyst and abscess about 6 weeks ago and had to fly home early from holiday to have it drained and a word catheter was inserted. Since the incision and drainage I have been expericing horrible pain at the incision site. Stabbing pains, stinging, etc. Some days are better than others. I have been to my OBGYN multiple times for the pain and she just keeps telling me everything looks good. I have found very little about the recovery process:pain after, etc . I know we had different procedures but you mentioned pain from scaring and I’m wondering if that is what I’m dealing with. What type of pain did you have and how long did it last? This has been so depressing and I feel hopeless. I just got married in June and needless to say it’s impacted my love life. Thanks again for writing this article and trying to help other women!!

        • linda says:

          Hi Lizzy – 6 weeks is nothing in terms of recovery time so I’m not surprised that it still hurts. In my experience doctors are often over-optimistic when they tell you how long it takes to recover. I was told 2 weeks which is complete nonsense. If you think about it, any kind of surgery will take longer than that! Nerves repair themselves at the rate of 1 inch per month and that depends on the age and health of the patient. My pain was a tingling like a nerve complaining but not a stabbing pain – I did not have a catheter as you know. Is your Obgyn certain there is no infection at the site of the incision? If not, it may just be a case of keeping the area clean and giving it time. I understand your frustration re: your love life though. You could try a lubricant from Yes.org – organic and lots of women (including me) swear by them. Research the ‘double glide’ technique which may make you comfortable enough to stand sex occasionally while you heal. Otherwise, the best pain management is probably a warm sitz bath a couple of times a day and painkillers. A great book about vaginal pain (even though it’s about vaginal atrophy) is Me and My Menopausal Vagina by Jane Lewis. The cause of her problem is different to ours but the protocol she has come up with to cope with vaginal discomfort may help. Lastly if you are not happy with what your Obgyn is telling you – please seek a second opinion (especially if you’re dealing with a man)!

        • Sneha says:

          Hi Lizzt,

          I got bartholyn cyst on 19th Oct 2019 which went on to become a full blown infection in 6 days even after taking antibiotics. I was rushed to the operation theatre and I got the abcess drained on 29th Oct. I was told it would take 4 weeks to heal. But practically I’m still healing. My cyst turned abcess was deep and on the left side. I had butt pain before the surgery when it is was infected. After the surgery there was in instant pain relief but the butt pain and the operated area continued to ache. I always had discomfort sitting or doing normal activities post operation. Sex would hurt! I consulted 2 gynecologists just to confirm if the cyst has returned. I still constantly worry about it. What I have observed is lack of vaginal lubrication causes the discomfort and pain in the operated region.

          Please share your thoughts about this and a safe lubricant which can help solve the discomfort. And thanks a lot for this article! It gives me comfort after reading it.

      • Sarah says:

        I had 1 for years and never gave me any problems then it balloon and all docs said was we’ll book you a gynea problem had to go back a day later for antibiotics luckily burst on its on. Then about 2 months later reappeared and was so painfull got reffered to hospital and was straight in for marsupialization. Then 15 months later it appeared again and it was worse experience of my life in 1 day it went from about grape since to golf ball and all surrounding area swelling rang doctors and was told to ring back next morning for emergency appointment (nothing available that day) tge swelling everywhere continued in which i ended up in a&e the gyno said it was the worse theyd ever seen but as swelling every where was so bad coukdnt operate and it had started to drain naturally, this caused me to have sepsis and was hospitalised for 7days with the cyst draining slowly and the rest of the area effected continueing to swell until the forth day in. Im so scared of this happening again and feel no doctors understand how much this affects womens lives .what if it happens in work (i work in a mans environment) and how can you do a sitz bath 4 times a day if your in work all day .

        • linda says:

          You poor thing. I hope you are on the mend and that it doesn’t return. The lack of knowledge about how awful these things can be is shocking. If you can afford any form of private medical insurance I recommend it so that you can at least see a specialist quickly when you need to. I have a Simply Health Cash Plan which means I can at least have a consultation at less than the full price and can jump the NHS queue. I have done so a couple of times and the difference between NHS and private treatment is staggering.

  27. OhNo says:

    I can’t believe I am 47 and got on of these horrors. Tried Phoebe’s cure at 7 last night and swapped it out a few times and it burst at 4 am! I also get infected ingrown hairs too so I am ready for the next battle. stay well…

  28. Maria says:

    I appreciate this article, I have been suffering for about 2yrs and they come unexpectedly almost every other month. Unfortunately this time on my birthday. I WILL DEFINITELY BE USING one or all of these remedies because surgery is not an option. I tried the drainage apparatus and it was horrible! Again thank you for the information.

  29. Faria says:

    I must sayxhats off to u for bringing out this topic if the bartholins cyst. I had one on the left side sice I was 12. And suffered in silence. Then wen I was about 24 it had just decided to pop up again. I consulted a very good Gynecologist who did marsupialization. And thank God I am now 65 yrs old and never ever had a problem again.

    • linda says:

      I had mine marsupialized too but I still worry about the darn things coming back. Until you have experienced them you don’t realise how painful they can be, do you? So sorry you had one at 12!

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