What is a Bartholin cyst?

The Bartholin glands are two small glands located on either side of the opening of the vagina. The glands produce mucus that helps lubricate (moisten) the vagina. A Bartholin cyst occurs when a blockage happens in the openings of one of these glands, causing the mucus to build up and form a lump.

Bartholin cysts occur in about 3% of all women. Doctors typically diagnose them in women of reproductive age. The chance of developing a Bartholin cyst decreases after menopause.

What causes a Bartholin cyst?

Doctors do not know why some women are predisposed to getting Bartholin cysts. In rare cases, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — including chlamydia and gonorrhea — can be related to cysts.

What are the symptoms of a Bartholin cyst?

Many Bartholin cysts are small and do not cause symptoms. If a Bartholin cyst forms an abscess (infection), symptoms may include pain, change in size with swelling, drainage, redness and fever. Larger cysts that aren't infected may cause symptoms including:

  • Irritation
  • Pain during sitting, walking, or sex

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy