A Bartholin’s cyst is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In rare cases, a Bartholin’s cyst may be caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. However, the cyst itself is not sexually transmitted.
Bartholin’s cysts form on either side of the vaginal folds near the opening of the vagina when there is an obstruction in the opening of one of Bartholin's glands, causing mucus to accumulate and form a lump.
What is a Bartholin’s cyst?
Bartholin’s glands are pea-sized structures located on each side of the vaginal opening that keep the vagina moist and lubricated. The glands produce fluid that travels to the vagina through ducts. If these ducts get blocked, fluid can accumulate in the gland and lead to a cyst.
In most cases, Bartholin’s cysts don’t cause pain, can range in size from a penny to an orange, and may feel tender to the touch. While most cysts don't cause any symptoms, larger cysts may cause pain and discomfort during sex.
If the cyst gets infected, however, a painful abscess may form and require hospitalization.
Is a Bartholin’s cyst benign or cancerous?
Most of the time, Bartholin’s cysts are benign or noncancerous. However, if you notice that the lump turns solid or harder, you should seek medical help immediately and undergo tests to rule out cancer. A biopsy is the only way to confirm whether a cyst is cancerous or benign.
What causes a Bartholin’s cyst?
The exact cause of Bartholin's cysts is still unclear, although it is more common in women between ages 20-30. Potential causes of blocked Bartholin's glands include:
- Trauma, inflammation, or extra skin growth in the vulva
- Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other STIs
- Infections caused by bacteria such as:
Who is at a high risk of a Bartholin’s cyst?
Risk factors for Bartholin’s cysts include the following:
- Sexually active
- Previous surgery of the vagina or vulva
- History of a Bartholin’s cyst
- Physical trauma in or around the Bartholin’s gland
- Ages 20-30
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