My Bartholin Cyst Experience - Abscess and Cathedar

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I had my first in January and I had never even heard of this before! At first I thought I'd had an in-grown hair or some such thing and within days I obviously knew it was something frightful. I thought my labia looked like the elephant man's disease! I could feel a lump the size of a marble and was very scared.

My doctor suggested I do the sitz baths with eposom salts and that, and I did every so many hours. I work from home and I'd sit in the tub with my laptop propped up on the toilet several times a day. Nothing worked.On New Years day I was in so much pain I went to Emergency and had it lanced. 

What to expect when lanced: the exam is very quick, because it is very obvious. It's more embarrasing than anything. The part that can really hurt is when they give you the local anaethetic - its a very small needle and a very small amount, but they must prick you in several places there and it smarts. But honestly to me - no more than poking it with a fingernail, really. Still, both times I've had this done it helped to ask the nurse if I could hold her hand. It only took about oh, one or two minutes honestly. 

Once you are lanced: the doctor will make an incision - but weirdly, because you are numb, you will be more freaked out by "feeling it", but there really isn't any pain. It's more anxiety than anything. It doesn't hurt. What DID kind of hurt was the last time where my doctor squeezed it like a huge zit, trying to squish out all the yucky - the doc before that did not do that, but instead had the nurse flush the wound out with saline and water several times before the cathedar insertion. It was not painful really, just super uncompfortable - like someone squeezing on a bruise you alaready have. Very annoying!

The cathedar insertion: This takes like 3 minutes maybe - I didn't feel him actually putting it in. Both times though, they said they had to cut me a little bit more again which made me very anxious. They have to make the cut big enough to intert it. When they cut you DO NOT MOVE around if you can help it. It's natural to freak out, but just pretend you are at the dentist - the less you move, the more accurate they are. Again - not painful, just freaky so just relax as best you can. I personally tense up my upper body and hold the nurse's hand and relax my lower half.

The whole procedure is done in 10-15 minutes. 

You will feel IMMEDIATE relief. Yes, it's invasive, yes, it's unplesant, but I have never thought 'oh gosh, I regret this' at all afterward (physically anyway).

The Aftermath: the first time I was told to keep the cathedar in for ten days. The second time I was told to keep it in for 4-6 weeks! It is generally advised to keep it in for a month. The first one I had fell out in 3 days. The balloon and the inscision was too large I guess and it drained and fell out very quickly. My doc said I'd likely have a recurrance and he was right. Here I am 6 months later and here I go again...

However, this time, my doc made a smaller inscision that kept it in there. A Word Cathedar is very uncomprtable for some people - mine kept rubbing up against my clit and pee-hole (just being real, sorry!), and after a few weeks I thought I could cut it shorter. 

The purpose of the cathedar is NOT drainage, acutally. You might look at it and think your yuck is draining from there, but it is not. It's actually draining from your cut only. The purpose of the cathedar is to make your bartholin gland bigger - so that it may drain better - and also maybe never close up again. 

If the cathedar falls out too soon, there is a good chance you have a) not drained the yuck suffiently and/or b) will get it again because your opening shunk back to size for your lovely gland that is having the problem. So it is good to have a larger gland, as uncomfortable as that stupid tube is. 

This last time around - I dont know if I made a mistake or not. I did not realiize that the tube was only there to make my gland more open. I thought it was a 'drainage tube'. Make no mistake - it is not. The thing that hangs out is only a "handle" for the thing keeping your bartholin gland hole open to heal you. If you remove it yourself, you risk getting another one.

Sometimes the Word Cathedar can simply fall out: if it does, a doc usually will not replace it. They might decisde to give you antibiotics, but that's rare if you have a good doc beause most of them will tell you that an issue that is 'encapsulated' cannot usually be addressed with drugs. It's not directly accessed by your blood stream. Isn't that great? Lame!!!

If you have a Word Cathedar in there and can't stant it anymore:

I would obviously advise you to go see a doc. Again, the earlier it comes out the more chance you have to get another cyst. 

The tube that sticks out is only there to make the opening in the cut proper to heal right. Remove it too soon and you risk it closing quickly. The issue with that is that is has no drained like it should. That being said, I might have made mistake: but those who want to remove it themselves, it's actually very easy: I thought I could cut it shorter because I thought it was a drainage tube, and I was tired of it bothering me. So I took scissors and cut the tube near myself - and all of the saline immediately drained out and the balloon fell out. 

The best thing to do is to squeeze out as much yuck as you can out of that opening if you wind up doing it yourself or having it fall out. Either way its best to follow up with a doc, nurse, or clinician. Last time I had a lump left over but it went away and I still had a reccurance. This time I feel no leftover lump, but that doesn't mean anything.

The best treatments I had during my experience was in my baths: 4 times a day, epsom salts and tee tree oil, and with my cath was ibuprofrin and cold compress. 

DO NOT by any means do a cold compress with a cyst - it will only shrink the gland instead. It is as tdll as a tear duct, maybe smaller, It will only make it worse! I only advise that for healing with a cath!

Know that weirdly SO many women get this: my first one was when I was 34, and my GFs said they were in their 20s - god bless and good luck wink

 

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  • Posted

    Hi! Thank you so much for sharing.  I have had my cyst lanced well over 40 times and this was the first time in the ER instead of my obgyn they inserted a catheter. I am still extremely sore and wondering if its from the balloon or the part hanging out of the incision. Does it stop being so painful? Bc when I would have it lanced n drained I felt immediate relief. Now I still feel a lot of pressure. Will this go away with the cath still in or will I feel this the entire time the cath is in? Im a waitress and walk a lot at work n there is no way I could have worked today. But I cant not work for 6 weeks ya know....
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  • Posted

    Hi,

    I've been reading everyone's experiences and am now concerned about what my doctor told me.  I have a Bartholin cyst (about the size of a large grape) that didn't bother me for years - I had it checked out by my gyno in Canada, but he said it was too small to do anything about, and as long as it didn't bother me it's fine just to leave it be. But then over the last couple months it started to become very painful during sex, so I went to another gyno (this time in Germany since I had moved there), and he suggested right away to do the small operation with a Word catheter.  I was scared to have that done, but finally made the appointment and had it done yesterday morning.  Thing is, the doctor told me to take the catheter out myself the following morning (today).  But everything I have read online says that the longer it is left in, the better the chance that the cyst won't come back.  24 hours doesn't seem like enough time for the gland to be open enough to drain properly.  Could he have given me the wrong information?

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    • Posted

      I had that exact same cyst. It reoccur ed for several years. The doctors kept lancing it. So one time the OBgyn put a catheter in. He told me to keep it in for a week and to come back to let him take it out. I did just that and that's been 18 years ago.

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  • Posted

    Hi so you had the catheter and another incision? I was worried because I have 2- one for the catheter and another one on my labia. Is this normal?
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    • Posted

      You probably only have one incision and the other thing that you're seeing is where your cyst ruptured? Usually when you see two "incisions" that's what it means. 
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  • Posted

    I had a Bartholin's Cyst for 11 years following the birth of my youngest.  It often got infected.  The last time, I had some stupid $#@!!&% lance it (no anesthetic).  I wanted to kill her.  I found another Ob/Gyn and she put in a "drain," permanant, and that was the last time.  13 years ago.  No one ever put a catheter in for it and your experiences sound awful.  I now am having a new, small cyst-type thing crop up again on occasion and I'm wondering if the drain ever needs replacing.  The cyst isn't quite in the same location but near the perineum.  I have Irritible Bowel/Colitis and with irritation have to use A&D to protect skin and pain from irritation but it seems the oil-based lub is clogging something up.  I asked my newer Ob/Gyn and she ignored me.  Last time I was in for it she tried to say it was a sexual something - I "assured her" I still am not having sex - & when lab results came back & I asked her what it was she sheepishly stated "e coli."  Ya, no fooling.  I called the lump a "cyst" and she said we'd call it a "fistula."  Time for a new Ob/Gyn.  

    Has anybody heard of the "drain" for a Bartholin's Cyst and do they need changing after a period of time?      

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    • Posted

      Hi I'm confused about the permanent drain you mentioned, how exactly was that procedure? It must've been a good procedure if it lasted that many years. I got lucky and didn't get it for about three months and suddenly here it comes again misery. I hate this so much and I even told my doctor that it seems like they have to put us thru every single painful procedure before they suggest something that actually works. I can totally relate girl.

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    • Posted

      That's exactly what I've found! It seems to me you have to take anti biotics and get thrush before they'll do anything useful. Hope you are well now .

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  • Posted

    I am 40, had these swellings for a few months with no pain so we just ignored them. Then last weekend the one on the left became tender then painfull until I wobbled instead of walked. He drained it (terrible experience)then it swelled back up. Yesterday I went back in and he did a balloon catheter thingy. I am in so much pain, impossible to find a non painful resting position. I've had 4 sits baths which start to feel better after 10-15 minutes in the water. Blood and ... stuff continues to leak out where the catheter enters the labia wall. Is this normal?! How long will it last? I am an elementary art teacher and there is NO WAY I can work like this!

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    • Posted

      I'm exactly the same as you- a 40 year old primary school teacher. Had the catheter put in yesterday after recurrent abscesses. It hurts so bad. Can't sit comfortably. Only laying down in certain positions or standing up. Blood is coming out. Does it get better? Or will I have 4 weeks of this? It better be worth it!

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    • Posted

      It does get better, but they may need to let a little saline out. Mine came out the first night because there was so much pressure backed-up in my duct and gland still. It just popped out with a huge glop of mucous and a little blood. I think sometimes they need to manually drain it more before catheter insert.
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  • Posted

    Did it hurt at all when you cut the tube by yourself? The Er wants mjme out by tomorrow but obg is too busy and Idk what to do. Currently 20 weeks pregnant and this is ask uncomfortable for me. :-( I just want it out. Also did the rest of the balloon fall out by itself afterwards or did you have to pull it out?
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    • Posted

      I begged my gyno to remove the catheter after a week. I was in awful discomfort! However he advised me that the purpose of the word catheter is to form a new duct for the gland to secrete through. He highly recommended me leave it in place for 4 weeks or it will most definitely come back in a matter of weeks or months. He also drained some of the saline to deflate the balloon a little which did relieve some pressure. I'm going on week 3 now and it's still pretty uncomfortable and I have pain after sitting in the car driving 30 minutes to work. It hurts when I cough or sneeze. I'm trying to tough it out and can't wait for my next appt. It does get better with each day that goes by. Take care and good luck! I totally sympathize!

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    • Posted

      how did you feel the day you got the catheter? Ita been about 7 hours since I got mine out in and I am in severe pain!! I have a high pain tolerance and this is new to me. besides a constant pain down there, I keep getting a sharp pain every so often? Hoping to go to bed and wake up feeling better. Let me know your initial experience please. I'm currently miserable over here

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    • Posted

      Hi I had the balloon cartheter put in 3 days ago I'm still in agony I am on antibiotics, take paracetamol and ibuprofen constantly. All I can do is lie uncomfortably on my bed. I KILLS when I go to the toilet and I can barely walk without being in pain. Im signed off work for next week but does this get any better? I have shooting pains and it's just constant throbbing. Is this normal?

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    • Posted

      I just had a drain tube put in mine on Monday. I feel so sore down there, in my hip, and even in my butt cheek. I don't have the word catheter though. I get sharp pains out of the blue as well. For the most part, everything looks good, everything smells good. It may seems weird but I've been smelling everything down there to see if I notice an infection coming on, I'm so worried about this going wrong!

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