How to Treat Bartholinitis
Bartholinitis is an inflammation of the so-called Bartholin's glands, which are located on both sides of the vaginal opening. Their function is producing a kind of mucosal fluid that keeps the entrance to the vagina wet. However, when the outlet is blocked, fluid cannot drain towards the outside and stays blocked inside, which ends up causing the gland in question to increase in size and a cyst to form. This may be more or less large, and if there is an infection, it will be painful and very uncomfortable for the woman. Keep reading this OneHowTo article to learn more about this condition. We explain how to treat bartholinitis and what are the common causes and symptoms.
Swelling of the Bartholin's glands or ducts can be caused by different factors including the following:
- Bacterial infections: when bacteria reach the ducts of Bartholin's glands, these become inflamed and expel vaginal secretions that keep the entrance to the vagina lubricated. If the gland becomes infected, this is called a Bartholin abscess.
- Bartholin cyst: in this case, there is only one part which limits the gland secretion, causing a blockage and the formation of a cyst. If this additionally gets a bacterial infection, the result is bartholinitis.
- Sexually transmitted diseases: in some cases, the bacteria that cause the inflammation may come from certain STDs, such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia.
- Other conditions: in other cases, the bacteria that causes Bartholinitis comes from other parts of the body, like is the case with E.coli from the intestine, or Staphylococcus Aerus from the skin or airways.
Once the causes are known, it is important to know what the symptoms of bartholinitis are and how it may manifest itself in women suffering from it. In many cases, you may not experience symptoms. However, when the cyst grows and increases in size, the most common signs are:
- A round swelling can be felt or noticed, which is sensitive to the touch on one of the labia, next to the vaginal opening.
- In case of infection, this swelling may cause discomfort and be especially painful when walking, sitting, or during intercourse.
- Swelling and redness of the affected labia.
- Fever, although not very common.
It is essential that if you notice a painful lump on one of the lips of the vagina or experience continuous discomfort in your intimate area, consult your doctor or gynaecologist. They will analyse the symptoms described and will perform some opportune tests to determine what is the exact cause of bartholinitis. It is possible that samples of vaginal secretions will be taken to detect the pathogen responsible or if there are sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia present.
Patients over 40 years of age may also have a tissue sample taken to detect the presence of cancerous cells.
Treatment for bartholinitis is determined by the degree and intensity of the inflammation, and whether or not there is an infection, so it may vary considerably from one patient to another.
When there is an infection or if you have been diagnosed with a specific sexually transmitted disease that has caused it, the doctor will prescribe antibiotic treatment to kill the pathogen. It is essential to not stop the treatment before it has finished and strictly follow all the instructions given by the specialist when taking any medication.
In mild cases, the size of the swelling will be controlled and you can foster its spontaneous drain by taking a hip bath with warm water, several times a day at home. To do this, you only have to fill a washbasin with warm water, and make sure the affected area is covered, then just stay in that position for several minutes. You can also do this directly in a bathtub, it will be more comfortable. Repeat the treatment 3 or 4 times a day to reduce inflammation and provide relief.
The same anti-inflammatory and soothing effect can be provided by warm, moist compresses, so you can apply them to the area as an alternative step if you suffer from bartholinitis.
To soothe acute pain, you can take anti-inflammatory medication and analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but it is important to do so under medical supervision and always respect the instructions regarding the appropriate dose.
If these treatments are not effective and do not give the expected results, the doctor may need to resort to a small surgical procedure to drain the cyst, which is performed swiftly under local anaesthesia in the doctor's office.
In some cases, a small sized catheter may need to be introduced into the cyst for the gland to stay open and drain the fluid away. The catheter is left in place for 2 to 4 weeks to achieve complete drainage. Although a patient can perform their daily activities normally, they may experience discomfort or pain, especially during sexual intercourse.
Adopting certain intimate hygiene measures and being responsible during sexual activities is very important for preventing any cysts in the area from becoming infected and to avoid aggravating the inflammation. Consider such recommendations as:
- Wash the intimate area twice a day, using a specific intimate soap and warm water.
- Avoid using harsh soaps, alcohol, perfumes, etc.
- Always keep the intimate area dry.
- Wear cotton underwear instead of synthetic fabrics.
- When doing your business, always wipe from front to back to prevent germs moving from the anus to the vagina.
- Use condoms during all sexual activity to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
- Undergo regular and appropriate gynaecological tests.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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