Management of Bartholin Duct Cysts and Gland Abscesses

J Midwifery Womens Health. 2019 May;64(3):337-343. doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12937. Epub 2019 Feb 7.


Bartholin duct cysts and gland abscesses can affect a woman's day-to-day functioning and be challenging to manage. Many Bartholin duct cysts that are not infected remain asymptomatic and resolve spontaneously without intervention. However, an infected Bartholin duct cyst or glandular abscess should be drained when larger than 2 cm because such cysts or abscesses do not tend to resolve spontaneously and can recur. Management options fall under 3 broad categories: expectant, medical, or surgical. With special training, midwives and women's health nurse practitioners can manage many women who present with Bartholin duct cysts or gland abscesses. Rarely, a woman with a severe or recurrent infection will need referral to a surgeon. Knowing which management option to choose may be challenging at first; this article is aimed at providing evidence-based knowledge about Bartholin duct cysts and gland abscesses for clinicians so that they can make the diagnosis and management plan with confidence. A clinical case is used to illustrate the identification, diagnosis, and management of Bartholin duct cysts and gland abscesses. The range of interventions, from expectant management with comfort measures to surgical intervention, is be explored to assist the clinician in choosing the correct management approach.

Keywords: Bartholin's glands; abscess; cysts; infection; midwifery; nurse practitioners.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnosis*
  • Abscess / therapy*
  • Bartholin's Glands / pathology*
  • Cysts / diagnosis*
  • Cysts / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Minor Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Recurrence
  • Staphylococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Staphylococcal Infections / therapy
  • Vulvar Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Vulvar Diseases / therapy*