Symptoms of a Bartholin's cyst 

Most Bartholin's cysts do not cause any symptoms. However, you may feel a soft, painless lump in your labia (the two pairs of lips that surround the entrance to your vagina).

You may not know that you have a cyst until it is found during a routine cervical screening test or an examination carried out for another reason.

If the cyst grows very large, it can become uncomfortable and noticeable. You may feel pain in your vulva (external sexual organs) when you walk, sit down or have sex.

Sometimes, the cyst can affect the outer pair of lips around the opening of the vagina (labia majora). One side may look swollen or bigger than usual.

If the cyst or Bartholin's gland becomes infected, an abscess may develop. This is a painful collection of pus that often gets bigger over a few hours or days. 

Signs of an abscess include the affected area becoming red, swollen, tender and hot. An abscess can also cause a high temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above.

When to see your GP

You should always see your GP if you develop a lump in the area around your vagina so they can confirm a diagnosis and rule out more serious conditions.

It's important to always have a lump checked by a medical professional because, in very rare cases, it can be a sign of a type of vulval cancer called Bartholin's gland cancer.

Page last reviewed: 25/11/2013

Next review due: 25/11/2015