B is for Bartholinitis
Bartholinitis is the inflammation of the Bartholin’s gland. The Bartholin’s glands are 2 pea sized glands located just behind each side of the lips which surround your vagina. The glands are usually unnoticeable as they rarely grow larger than 1cm in width.
The Bartholin’s glands secrete fluid which acts as a lubricant during sex. The fluid travels down tiny tubes called ducts, into the vagina. If these ducts become blocked, they can fill with fluid and expand to form a cyst or in some cases extreme inflammation.
Causes of Bartholinitis or blocked ducts are not always known. In some cases it can been linked to sexually transmitted bacterial infections such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia, or other bacterial infections such as Escherichia coli (E. coli).
- Swelling of the genitals
- Cysts on the labia
- Increase in temperature
If you have a lump in your genitals, get it checked by your GP.
If it turns out to be a Bartholin’s cyst and it doesn’t bother you, it’s often better to leave it alone.
If the cyst is painful, you may wish to speak with you GP about the following options,
- soaking the cyst for 10 to 15 minutes in the bath – you should do this several times a day for three or four days if possible
- holding a warm compress (a flannel or cotton wool warmed with hot water) against the area
- taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions when using over-the-counter medication.
Once the infection has been treated, your GP may still recommend having the cyst drained, particularly if the abscess is large.
Don’t fancy reading? Watch this video for a visual breakdown and explanation of Bartholinitis and Bartholin’s cysts.