If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my Bartholin cyst, it’s that even the most unexpected things can become great conversation starters. Forget the weather, let’s talk about my personal cyst saga!
That is what we are going to do today. I am sharing in great detail about my first bartholin cyst and how I survived it! This is the Bartholin Cyst Survival Guide: What They Never Taught Us.
I am not sharing this to be disgusting. I genuinely want women to know more about this because it is more common than you think. I went 37 years without one. I would like to go another 37 or longer.
I know there can be a lot of information everywhere on how to take care of a Bartholin Cyst/Abscess. That can be VERY overwhelming so I wanted to put this guide together to be your one-stop shop to help you take care of your cyst problem. A post like this would have helped me tremendously with my problem. If you have any other suggestions please share in the comments so we can help as many people who have this issue.
Before We Begin…
*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use or have used myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
Welcome to this week’s blog post, where I share my personal journey with a Bartholin cyst and how it became a turning point in my life. Contrary to what most people might think, this blog post is not intended to be disgusting or uncomfortable. Instead, I want to shed light on this common condition that many women might face at some point in their lives, just like I did.
In this survival guide, I’ll delve into what a Bartholin gland/cyst is and the surprising discovery I made about its location and function. I’ll discuss the triggers and potential causes of Bartholin cysts and how to recognize the symptoms. Moreover, I will share my insights on why this important topic is often omitted from traditional sexual education, and how we can bridge this knowledge gap to empower women.
Batholin Cyst Survival Guide
To help you navigate through the experience of a Bartholin cyst, I’ll provide valuable tips on how to treat it at home, including various remedies like warm compresses, sitz baths, essential oils, and the “Pheobe Method”. While these approaches can be beneficial, I must stress the significance of seeking medical advice if the condition becomes unbearable or worrisome.
Additionally, I’ll address the aftercare of a Bartholin abscess and the steps I’m taking to prevent its recurrence in my life. Understanding preventive measures, maintaining good hygiene, and making informed choices about personal care products have become essential aspects of my daily routine.
Above all, my goal is to raise awareness and break the stigma surrounding discussions related to women’s health. Let’s prioritize comprehensive sexual education that covers all aspects of female anatomy, including the lesser-known parts like the Bartholin glands. By sharing knowledge, fostering empathy, and encouraging open conversations, we can create a more supportive and informed community for women’s health. No one should suffer in silence, and through unity, we can empower each other to lead healthier and happier lives.
What is a Bartholin Gland/Cyst?
I want to start this off with how mind-blown I was to figure out what my lady issue was. If you don’t know what a Bartholin gland is let me paint you a picture but I will also show an actual picture. I just need to explain in my overdramatic sarcastic voice because it is funnier.
As a 37-year-old woman, I thought all these years that a woman’s vagina gets wet from the inside. Deep down where the man’s pee-pee goes. I… did not know that women have 2 little nostril-like holes at the bottom entrance of their vagina. One on each side that helps aid in vaginal wetness. Imagine you will 2 nostrils, not even 2 nostrils maybe gills but a circle shape.
Either way, they are seamlessly unnoticeable but if that gland gets blocked it can become a cyst. If that cyst gets infected it turns into an abscess and that right there is why we are all gathered here. To learn about what happens when THAT happens.
But my little rant is WHY DID WE NEVER LEARN THIS IN SEX ED??? Someone, please explain that to me. How are you going to “teach” women about their bodies but not go over ALL of it? The only thing they go over are periods and the reproductive system and if you have sex you will DIE. I am sorry but I think that this is a crucial element we need to learn about. Anyways I digress let us continue with the guide.
PSA: You are not disgusting
Before we go any further I want you to know that this does not make you nasty or disgusting. I know I felt that way and cried to Mike about it. You feel like you didn’t shower enough, did wipe good enough… whatever you are thinking I am sure you did your best. About two out of 10 women can expect to get a Bartholin’s gland cyst at some point. There could be a bunch of different reasons why this happened.
What triggers a Bartholin cyst?
- Blocked duct: A blockage in the duct that drains the Bartholin’s gland can lead to the accumulation of fluid and the formation of a cyst or abscess.
- Bacterial infection: Infection with bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Streptococcus, or Staphylococcus aureus, can cause inflammation and infection in the Bartholin’s gland. (THIS IS RARE)
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia can lead to inflammation and infection of the Bartholin’s gland.
- Poor hygiene: Inadequate genital hygiene can increase the risk of bacterial overgrowth and infection in the area.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause can affect the functioning of the Bartholin’s glands and contribute to cyst formation.
- Trauma or injury: Physical trauma or injury to the genital area, such as during childbirth, surgery, or sexual activity, can disrupt the normal functioning of the glands and lead to cysts or abscesses.
- Immune system issues: A weakened immune system, due to conditions like diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or certain medications, can increase the risk of infection and abscess formation.
- Excessive mucus production: Some individuals naturally produce more mucus in the genital area, which can contribute to the development of cysts.
- Congenital abnormalities: Rare congenital abnormalities of the Bartholin’s glands or ducts can make individuals more prone to cysts or abscesses.
- Previous Bartholin cyst or abscess: Having a history of previous cysts or abscesses increases the risk of recurrence.
- Age: Bartholin cysts and abscesses are more common in women of reproductive age, particularly between the late teens and early 30s.
- Stress: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and make individuals more susceptible to infections.
- Allergies: Allergic reactions in the genital area can lead to inflammation and blockage of the ducts.
- Hormonal contraceptives: Some hormonal contraceptives may increase the risk of cyst development, although the association is not well-established.
- Excessive sweating: Increased sweating in the genital area can contribute to bacterial growth and infection.
- Tight clothing: Wearing tight or non-breathable clothing can create a warm and moist environment that promotes bacterial growth.
- Use of harsh or irritating hygiene products: Certain soaps, douches, or feminine hygiene products may disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the genital area and contribute to infection.
- Smoking: Smoking can impair the immune system and increase the risk of infections.
- Chemical irritation: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as harsh detergents or perfumed products, may irritate the Bartholin’s glands and lead to cyst formation.
- Unknown causes: In some cases, the exact cause of Bartholin cysts or abscesses may remain unknown.
So we don’t know what causes it exactly. It could be one of these things, some of these things, or none of these things, but just know you can only go up from here. I am here to help you work through this.
How I found out I had a Bartholin Cyst
All of this happened back in April. Let me set the scene for you. Again this will be TMI, but bear with me. I remember sitting outside in my pajamas. If I am home in my pj’s I am not wearing a bra or underwear. I want to be comfy. So I went outside to sit on my porch and as I was sitting there I felt a pinch on the inside of my left vagina lip. I thought to myself “Oh, that felt weird.”
Where does my dumb mind go to? I decided to google “Can an ant bite the inside of your vagina?” I must have looked up 50 million different variations of the same question. If you must know an Ant can bite the inside of your vagina, but it is rare.
I swore to myself that it was an Ant, but I felt a pinch a few more times. But ultimately thought that maybe I was wrong and something got pulled or it was just a sharp pain because I did also start my period. I don’t know what it was but I didn’t feel it again when I went back inside.
So I thought nothing of it.
The next day I was fine. That night I went to use the bathroom and wiped after I pee’d and I had the wind knocked out of me because when I wiped it felt… the only way I can describe is that it felt like a scab being ripped off too soon. I yelped. Wiped again and saw a little blood. But I didn’t know if that was because of what just happened or if it was my period.
This is where it gets interesting…
Bedroom Mirror Contortionism
I had to go look at my vagina in a mirror. So I set my body mirror up with a towel on the ground, toilet paper, and my cellphone flashlight. I opened up my lip and saw a teeny tiny little hole with a little blood. I wiped it clean and took pictures. I took pictures of everything because looking in the mirror is not comfortable for long periods of time and I wanted to zoom in so I could see what it was.
I went back to Google and kept searching for things like:
- Ant bite on the vaginal lip on the inside
- Bug bite on inner vaginal lip
- Pimple on inner vaginal lip
- Small hole on the inside vaginal lip
I looked up what fistulas were, vaginal boil, Leiomyosarcomas, Gartner’s cysts anything and everything. I was on a deep dive and finally arrived at it being a Bartholin cyst. The next plan of action was trying to figure out…
How to treat a Bartholin Cyst
Google can be your best friend when it comes to self-diagnosing, but it gives you the same answer over and over. Warm compress and a sitz bath. Both of those are a great start to your healing journey. But treating things this way becomes a full-time job. You have no other time for anything else. This is your life’s mission now if you choose to accept and you better bitch! LOL
I am not going to lie and sugarcoat shit for you. A question I see a lot is “How fast does a Bartholin Cyst grow?” After that little “Scabby” was ripped off by the next day my left vagina lip felt BIG. She felt like she was thiccccccccccc. She became as thick as a dictionary. It hurt to sit, but once I sat I was good. If I got up I was in pain, but once I got up I was good.
When treating this monster it is good to start with a warm compress and sitz bath. Throw a heating bad into the mix, but I needed different ways. I needed to find women who have had this before that can help the clueless person I am.
Facebook… Facebook has a group for everything. I will share the exact group I joined. These women were so helpful. I tried many of their suggestions. With this stubborn old bitch between my legs… she will teach you patients because you WILL need it.
Bartholin gland cyst support for women there are almost 16,000 members who have gone or are going through the same thing you are. These women made it so much easier for me.
*Reminder* I am not a doctor. I am just sharing information that I have learned and helped me through my process.
**If at any point during this process you get a fever, it gets too much for you to handle, you feel off… GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR. You know your body, but if it gets too much seek professional help.**
How to Treat a Bartholin Cyst at Home
- Warm compresses: Apply a warm compress to the affected area for 10-15 minutes, several times a day, to help reduce pain and promote drainage.
- Sitz baths: Take sitz baths by sitting in a shallow tub of warm water for 15-20 minutes, a few times a day, to provide relief and encourage healing.
- Epsom salt soak: Add a few tablespoons of Epsom salt to warm water and soak the affected area for 10-15 minutes to help reduce inflammation and promote drainage.
- Tea tree oil: Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) and apply it to the cyst or abscess to help prevent infection. Remember to do a patch test first and discontinue use if any irritation occurs.
- Turmeric paste: Make a paste by mixing turmeric powder with water and applying it to the affected area. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce swelling.
- Witch hazel compresses: Soak a clean cloth in witch hazel and apply it to the cyst or abscess for 10-15 minutes, a few times a day, to help reduce swelling and discomfort.
- Aloe vera gel: Apply pure aloe vera gel to the affected area to soothe the skin and promote healing.
- Apple cider vinegar: Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, and apply it to the cyst or abscess with a clean cloth. Apple cider vinegar may have antibacterial properties.
- Essential oil blend: Mix a few drops of lavender oil, tea tree oil, and chamomile oil with a carrier oil, and apply it to the affected area to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
- OTC pain relievers: Non-prescription pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and discomfort. Follow the instructions and recommended dosage.
- Phoebe’s Method/Cure: is a combination of tea tree oil, witch hazel, and calamine lotion on some gauze to apply to the cyst.
- Adequate hydration: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, which can support your body’s healing processes.
- Proper hygiene: Maintain good hygiene in the genital area by keeping it clean and dry. Avoid using harsh soaps or irritants.
- Loose-fitting clothing: Wear loose-fitting underwear and clothing to minimize irritation and allow air circulation.
- Avoiding sexual activity: Refrain from sexual intercourse until the cyst or abscess has healed to prevent further irritation and infection.
- Natural antimicrobial agents: Some natural substances like garlic, coconut oil, or Manuka honey have antimicrobial properties. However, use them with caution and consult a healthcare professional before trying them.
- Castor oil pack: Apply a warm castor oil-soaked cloth to the affected area and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave it on for 30 minutes to promote healing and reduce inflammation.
- Dietary modifications: Some people find that avoiding inflammatory foods, such as processed foods and excessive sugar, can help reduce inflammation in the body.
- Arnica gel: Apply arnica gel topically to the affected area to help reduce pain and inflammation. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
- Rest and elevation: If possible, rest and elevate the affected area to reduce swelling and promote healing.
It becomes a full-time job
I am sharing all of these ways for you to take care of this problem at home. I had no time for anything else. So thank the Lord above that I was working from home. A lot of the women in the group suggested Prid. I search high and low at CVS and Walgreens. Finally found it. It is a little orange box for 9.99. If you are also wondering if you can put it inside your vagina the answer is yes. Apply Prid to a gauze pad and press it up against the problem area. Change it twice a day cleaning the area thoroughly each time.
I used it for 2 days and didn’t think it did anything, but I think I was impatient and didn’t use it as much as I should have.
I also bought unscented baby wipes because toilet paper hurt when wiping. I spent a lot of my time sitting on a heating pad. We were on day 9 since this started, day 4 of it actually being an abscess.
The only thing that helped me survive to this point was my 10ft charging cord, my drink, my Bluetooth speaker, and downloading Peacock on my phone so I could watch Law and Order: SVU. It made the time go by so much faster. I would spend hours in there just refilling my water.
It has to get worse before it gets better
The pain got worse just because of the pressure. It was hard to sit or stand. The only position that was comfortable was laying spread eagle on my couch. I would call Mike bawling my eyes out because I was so uncomfortable and waterlogged from ALL the sitz baths.
On day 5, laid up on my couch scrolling the Facebook group looking for any other tips to help relieve the pain of this Bartholin abscess. Then I saw one comment that said to use a massage gun and run it along the area. I thought that sounds stupid, but hey I’ll try anything at this point.
So with the massage gun on the lightest setting, I ran it along the area… I am telling you it feels weird, and was NOT sexual at all but I got so much more relief from the massage gun than anything else I had tried. I laid there for 20-30 mins just gliding the massage gun over my vag lip. It was fucking glorious.
That soon ended when the gun died and the pressure and uncomfortableness came back. I called Mike again bawling my eyes out that I can’t take the pain anymore. We decided when he got home from work we would go to the hospital.
Making jokes through the pain
I was SO over this. As I was laying on the couch… I had a one-on-one conversation with my vagina. I literally said “You better pop on your own, because if not… I am going to the hospital and they will do it for me.” I was joking but also serious at the time.
I didn’t want to take another sitz bath, but I couldn’t handle it anymore. I packed up my phone charger, a drink, and my phone and went and sat in the bath. I sat there for almost 2 hours in the hottest water I could stand. Which my handle was turned to scolding hot. I kept having the same threatening conversation… “You better pop on your own, because if not… I am going to the hospital and they will do it for me.”
This may be TMI, but I want you to be prepared
I noticed my water was getting cold so I decided to drain it all out and refill when I looked down I saw stuff floating in the water. I immediately stood up. I touched the abscess and felt it draining. I jumped out of the bath laid down a towel in front of my body mirror and just saw the stuff coming out. You are not supposed to squeeze it so I gently applied pressure to one side at a time alternating.
I had relief down there, but the real pain started. It hurt to touch, but I know I had to get the stuff out. The pain was so bad, I was out of breath, sweating… I couldn’t tell you if it was from being in Satan’s bathtub or if the pain was hyperhidrosis (my nervous system causing excessive sweating due to pain) either way I was beaten. I laid on the floor with my cat’s litter box inches from my head and I didn’t care (As long as they didn’t use it while I was there. LOL )
After a few minutes, I couldn’t play contortionist anymore, my leg hurt, my back hurt, and I’m sweating my ass off. I put on comfy pajamas, and underwear with the biggest, longest pad I owned. While I was up I packed my bookbag for the hospital. Phone chargers, socks, a sweater, and my vaccine card. After I was done I relaxed on the couch with a towel under my butt. Waiting patiently for Mike to come home so we could go to the ER.
Going to the ER
When Mike got home we stopped for some snacks and drinks before heading to the ER. (Shout out to my hero Mike.) He got up for work at 4:30a. Went to work all day got home around 6:30ish took me to the hospital waited the 8 hours with me. I got discharged around 3:30. We got home by 4a. Just enough time for Mike to use the bathroom and then leave for work.
Anyways as I said… We waited for 8 hours before I was seen. Mind you I was draining this whole time. It was so uncomfortable. Once I was finally in a room It wasn’t long til I saw the doctor. The Dr and the Nurse made my time so much better. We were laughing and joking. The nurse told me before anything happens she will make sure that I get pain meds before the doctor does anything.
Well, the doctor came in when the nurse wasn’t there and started pushing on the opened wound. I was singing/screaming in pain like “OH MY GAWWWDDDD” The nurse walked in and said to the doctor “Can we get her something for the pain before you continue to push?”
I was so out of it that the nurse gave me the pain med in my thigh and I said to her “Are you just going to leave the needle dangling out of me?” I don’t like needles so my eyes were closed. She responded, “It’s not in you.” I replied “Yes, it is. I feel it dangling out of my thigh.” Open your eyes she said. When I did she was standing there with the needle in her hands and I looked down and swore to god that the needle felt like it was hanging out of me.
The doctor spent a good 5 minutes pushing on my wound to help get all the gunk out. She said the hardest part was over. That I did good by getting it to open on its own. I am so glad she was pushing on it because I would not have been able to do that myself. I mean I didn’t like her during or after that. She was a “mean” Doctor. LOL JK
She gave me prescriptions for 2 different antibiotics. One I took once a day for 7 days and the other one I took every six hours for 7 days. I paid 109 dollars for both of these scripts and that was using Good Rx as well. I also had her take a sample of the gunk to make sure it wasn’t something more serious. It wasn’t thank god.
If you go to the ER or you go see your Dr and they prescribe antibiotics… Here is a little tip from my sister… Make sure you ask for “the pink pill” as well. After I went to the ER and took my antibiotics for 7 days I got a yeast infection. I had never had one before so I didn’t even know I had one for about a week after. My sister told me that is what it was.
If I would have asked for the pink pill when I was there I could have taken that after to prevent getting a yeast infection. So I had to buy Monistat to help treat that.
After Care of Having a Bartholin Abscess
I don’t know what caused this to happen, but I would not wish this on my worse enemy. I am 37 years old and never knew this could happen so I am doing everything I can to prevent it from happening again. But I also read that once you get one you are prone to getting them again. So just be proactive and do everything you can to prevent them from happening.
I never want this to happen again so I spent a lot of time researching. Reading posts in the Facebook group, reading blog posts, doctor websites, watching youtube videos, and TikToks. Anything I could get my hands on.
The first thing I did was I changed up my washing routine in the shower. I can no longer just buy whatever smells/looks good. All of these products are linked in my Amazon Storefront.
Exfoliate the outside side of your vagina. Waterproof Facial Cleansing Spin Brush
Exfoliate – Exfoliating Gloves
Get a good body wash – Neutrogena Body Clear Oil-Free Acne Body Scrub with Salicylic Acid
As I said at the beginning of this post… Do not feel pressured to buy anything through my links but I want to make sure you know that I only recommend products I would use or have used myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.
Another thing I am doing is regular checks on the inside of my vagina Every few days I check my vag in the mirror to make sure everything is healing correctly and nothing else is happening down there. As I have said NUMEROUS times I NEVER want this to happen again.
My journey with a Bartholin cyst has been eye-opening and educational. Throughout this experience, I’ve come to realize the importance of sharing this information with other women to raise awareness about this common condition. It’s surprising that many of us go through life without knowing about the Bartholin glands and their role in our bodies.
My hope is that by sharing my story and the information I’ve gathered, more women will become aware of the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options related to Bartholin cysts. I want to emphasize that experiencing a Bartholin cyst does not make anyone “disgusting” or “nasty.” It’s a natural part of our bodies and something many women may encounter in their lives.
Understanding the triggers and preventive measures, such as maintaining good hygiene, avoiding irritants, and managing stress levels, can potentially reduce the risk of developing these cysts. Additionally, recognizing the early signs and promptly seeking medical attention if needed can make a significant difference in the treatment process.
I am not a medical professional, but through my research and personal experience, I’ve learned about various home remedies that can help alleviate discomfort and promote healing, such as warm compresses, sitz baths, essential oils, and topical treatments like Prid. However, it’s crucial to remember that individual responses to these remedies may vary, and consulting with a healthcare professional is always recommended.
My journey with a Bartholin cyst has taught me resilience and patience. It has also highlighted the importance of a supportive community. Finding a group of women who have gone through or are going through a similar experience was immensely helpful, as they provided valuable advice and empathy during a challenging time.
Finally, I want to stress that if anyone experiences severe pain, fever, or feels overwhelmed, seeking professional medical help is essential. Self-care and home remedies can be beneficial, but medical guidance should not be overlooked, especially if the condition becomes unbearable.
To all women out there, let’s continue to educate ourselves about our bodies and break the stigma surrounding discussions related to our health. It’s time to prioritize comprehensive and inclusive sexual education that covers all aspects of female anatomy, including the lesser-known parts like the Bartholin glands.
Through knowledge, empathy, and open conversations, we can create a more supportive and informed community for women’s health, ensuring that no one has to suffer in silence with conditions like Bartholin cysts.
Until next time, Have a great day! Remember you are a badass!