Bartholin's abscess

Bartholin’s abscess is an abscess on the Bartholin gland. Each woman has two Bartholin glands. They are located at the entrance of the vagina. One gland is located on each side of the vagina.

When one or both of the Bartholin glands become infected, Bartholin abscess occurs. Each gland has a small opening (duct). If this opening becomes blocked, fluid builds up in the gland and abscess results. Fluid buildup may take many years to occur.

Signs and symptoms

The most common symptoms of are:

  • hot, tender swollen lump in the labia majora
  • fever
  • painful and sensitive vagina
  • pain with sexual intercourse

Bartholin’s cysts are usually very small and have no noticeable symptoms. Without noticeable symptoms, diagnosis can be delayed until medical examination (often for some other condition).


The most common causes are:

  • bacterial infection
  • E. coli bacteria in the vagina
  • gonococcus (organism that causes gonorrhea) in the vagina
  • staphylococcus aureus bacteria in the vagina
  • streptococcus bacteria (organism that causes strep throat) in the vagina

How is Bartholin’s Abscess diagnosed?

Bartholin’s abscess can be diagnosed via a pelvic exam, a test for STDs and an examination of a lump in your vagina.

Complications of Bartholin’s Abscess

If Bartholin’s abscess is not treated properly, a cyst may form on the Bartholin’s gland. If a cyst forms, the cyst will need to be removed.

In women over the age of 40, an enlarged Bartholin’s gland may signal an underlying tumor in the gland, although this is very rare.

Treatment options

Some of the most common treatments are:

  • draining of the abscess
  • antibiotics to combat infection
  • Your doctor may recommend that the glands be removed if abscesses recur.

How can Bartholin’s Abscess be prevented?

Methods of preventing Bartholin’s Abscess are:

  • practice safe sex
  • have good personal hygiene

Call your doctor…

If you believe you have Bartholin’s Abscess, call your doctor because treatment is necessary to prevent complications.