Bartholinitis is an inflammation of infectious origin occurring in the Bartholin glands, glands belonging to the female reproductive system. It manifests as a sharp pain in the vagina. Quick and appropriate medical treatment helps relieve pain.


Bartholinitis, what is it?

Definition of bartholinite

Bartholinitis is a medical term for acute inflammation of the Bartholin glands. Called the major vestibular glands in the new medical nomenclature, these glands are part of the female reproductive system. Located deep and behind the vaginal opening, Bartholin’s glands have an excretory function. These are hormone-dependent glands which participate in the lubrication of the vagina during sexual intercourse.

The female reproductive system has two Bartholin glands. Bartholinitis can affect a single gland or both simultaneously. 

Causes of Bartholinitis

Bartholinitis is an inflammation of infectious origin. It may be due to:

  • a vaginal infection which is most often a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as gonorrhea or chlamydia;
  • a digestive infection which may be due to various pathogens including Escherichia coli.

With developments in the prevention of STIs, digestive infections are now the main cause of bartholinitis.

Diagnosis of bartholinitis

The diagnosis is generally based on:

  • clinical examination supported by questioning to assess symptoms and rule out other possible causes;
  • a bacteriological examination to confirm the infection and identify the pathogenic germ;
  • a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam if in doubt.
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People affected by bartholinitis

Bartholinitis is an inflammation manifesting itself in the female genitalia. It only concerns women of childbearing age, although some rare exceptions exist.

Bartholinitis is more often diagnosed in women between the ages of 20 and 29, especially in those who have never had children and those with diabetes. 

Risk factors for bartholinitis

The development of bartholinitis can be favored by:

  • unsafe sex;
  • ingestion of water or food unfit for consumption.

It would also appear that an episiotomy can promote the development of bartholinitis. It is a surgical act that can be performed during childbirth. However, this risk factor has not yet been confirmed.

Symptoms of Bartholinitis

  • Acute and localized pain: Bartholinitis is characterized by the appearance of severe pain in the vagina.
  • Redness: The pain may also be accompanied by the appearance of redness and a feeling of heat.
  • Cyst or abscess: It is possible to notice a firm and painful lump in case of bartholinitis. It may be a cyst or an abscess (pockets containing a liquid or a semi-solid substance).


How to treat bartholinitis?

In first intention, the management of bartholinitis is based on drug treatment based on antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. This treatment may be sufficient when the infection is not too severe.


In some cases, surgery may be considered. The surgical operation may consist of fistulization, marsupialization or resection. The first two techniques are based on an incision and then drainage of the abscess or cyst. The third technique is a total removal of the abscess or cyst.

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Prevent Bartholinitis

Prevention of bartholinitis mainly concerns sexually transmitted infections. It is recommended :

  • put on a condom during sex;
  • get tested, and encourage your partner to do so;
  • to follow his medical treatment in case of STI to avoid transmitting it to his / her partner.

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