Bartholin cysts are fluid-filled sacs in your Bartholin gland. They can become infected and form an abscess, or sac of pus. Your doctor drained the fluid out of the cyst.
After surgery, you may have pain and discomfort in your vulva for several days. It may be uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time. You may also have pain if your urine comes into contact with your wound.
Your doctor may have put a small rubber tube, called a catheter, in the cut (incision). The catheter keeps the area open so fluid can drain out of it. Your doctor will likely remove the catheter in about 4 weeks. But the catheter may fall out on its own. If it does, tell your doctor.
You can expect to feel better and stronger each day. But you may get tired quickly and need pain medicine for a week or two. You may need about 2 to 4 weeks to fully recover.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Try to walk each day. Start out by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk.
- You can resume your regular activities when you are feeling better.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again. Anesthesia and pain medicine can make it unsafe for you to drive.
- You may need to take a few days off work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex. Do not douche.
- You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- You may notice that your bowels are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. Take a fiber supplement such as Citrucel or Metamucil every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, take a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also be given instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
- Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- Follow your doctor's instructions about removing any gauze from your wound.
- Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry.
- Keep the area clean and dry. You may cover it with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
- You may have some blood or fluid draining from the wound. Wear sanitary pads if needed.
- Sit in a few inches of warm water (sitz bath) for 15 to 20 minutes 3 times a day. Then pat the area dry. The warm water helps the area heal and eases discomfort.
- If you cannot take a bath, put a warm, clean washcloth on your vulva to help with healing and pain.
- If you have had a catheter placed in the cyst to help it drain, follow your doctor's instructions for activities until the tube comes out.
- Wear cotton underwear. Avoid underwear made from nylon, polyester, or silk.
- Do not wear tight clothing until your wound has healed.
- If sitting is painful, you may want to try sitting on a doughnut-shaped pillow.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You have chest pain, are short of breath, or cough up blood.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You cannot pass stools or gas.
- You have vaginal discharge that has increased in amount or smells bad.
- You are sick to your stomach or cannot drink fluids.
- You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
- Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over your incision.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the incision.
- Increased drainage from the incision.
- A fever.
- You have bright red vaginal bleeding that soaks one or more pads in an hour, or you have large clots.
- You have signs of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
- Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter X156 in the search box to learn more about "Bartholin Cyst Surgery: What to Expect at Home".
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology