This is a lump (filled with pus) that forms along the Bartholin gland, at either side of the vaginal opening. They form when glandular ducts are blocked and fill with fluid (Bartholin’s cyst); they are painless unless they become infected from bacteria (Bartholin’s abscess). This process may take place very slowly or in a matter of days, but when infection occurs, it becomes painfully hot and swollen and should be addressed promptly.


  • Tender lump on either side of the lower vulva
  • Fever
  • Pain in intercourse or when sitting
  • Redness of the skin surrounding the lump

Who is at risk?

It occurs in females; more commonly over the age of 40.


Most of these cysts will go away on their own with good self care, like a series of warm baths or compresses to reduce the swelling. If an abscess forms, a physician may want to drain the area, send the results to a lab and conduct a pelvic exam to rule out further complications or causes. The incised abscess is typically packed with gauze or held open with a Word catheter to keep it from reforming before it heals. Antibiotics are sometimes in order to clear the infection.

Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?

Women under 40 may attempt warm compresses and baths in the short term. If swelling and pain does not recede after three days of conservative care, consult a physician. Women over 40 should consult a physician right away to rule out more serious problems.

Bartholin’s abscess treatment is available now at OnPoint Urgent Care in Aurora, Highlands Ranch, or Lone Tree Colorado.

For more information on Bartholin’s cyst and abscess, see the following websites:

Medline Plus (NIH) Overview of Bartholin’s Abscess

eMedicine page on Bartholin Gland Diseases

Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of The pages will open in a new browser window. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.