What Is It?
A cyst is a sac filled with liquid or semisolid material that forms under the skin or somewhere inside the body. The Bartholin's gland is one of two small glands on each side of the labia minora, just outside of the opening to the vagina. During sexual arousal, the Bartholin's gland releases a lubricating fluid. A Bartholin's gland cyst develops when the gland becomes blocked. The Bartholin's gland can become blocked for a variety of reasons, such as infection, inflammation or long-term irritation.
Many Bartholin's gland cysts don't cause any symptoms. They usually are discovered when a woman notices a small, painless mass just outside the opening to the vagina, or when a physician notices it during a routine pelvic examination. However, if the cyst grows larger than 1 inch in diameter, it can cause discomfort when sitting, or during intercourse. If a cyst becomes infected, it fills with pus, and becomes firm, swollen, and very painful, making it difficult for a woman to sit, walk or have intercourse. The pus-filled cyst is called an abscess.