What are the Bartholin-Printers


Bartholinitis: Mostly unilateral inflammation of the duct of the Bartholin glands, mostly due to bacterial infection. Bartholinitis is the most common cause of swelling in the external genital area and occurs at any age, but it mainly affects women between the ages of 20 and 30. As a result of the infection, the duct of the gland swells and the opening is stuck to the outside, so that the gland secretion is no longer released and accumulates (Bartholin empyema).

Bartholin's cyst: Occurs after recurring (recurrent) inflammation and accumulation of secretion in an encapsulated Bartholin gland. In order to avoid recurrences, surgery is usually performed in later stages of the disease.

Leading complaints

  • Unilateral, extremely painful, hen's egg to tennis ball-sized swelling and redness in the area of ​​the labia majora
  • Pain when sitting and walking
  • Bartholin's cyst: swelling without pain.

Left: Position of the Bartholin glands to the left and right of the posterior vaginal entrance. Right: Right-sided bartholinitis in a 30-year-old woman. The labia and Bartholin's gland are very red and swollen. One can clearly see the glued excretory duct of the gland.

When to the doctor

In the next few days if

  • a plump and spherical swelling that can be felt in the area of ​​the labia majora, which hardly or not hurts.

Today or the next day, if

  • severe pain, swelling, and redness of the labia majora occurs on one side.

The illness

Disease emergence

The Bartholin glands are located in the back of the labia majora and moisten the vagina with their secretions. Their excretory ducts open into the vaginal vestibule. There are various bacteria present in healthy women, which penetrate the ducts and cause inflammation there. As a result, the secretion builds up. There is a threat of inflammation of the executive organ, which spreads to the surrounding tissue or becomes an abscess.

In some cases, the abscess will go up on its own and the bartholinitis will heal on its own. Initially, the symptoms improve. However, the disease often recurs afterwards and can become chronic.


Triggers are bacteria from the intestine. Bartholinitis is most often caused by streptococci, staphylococci or E. coli; germs such as gonococci are rare.


Bartholinitis is usually unilateral swelling, overheating, redness and pain in the back third of the labia. In addition, an accumulation of pus (empyema) forms in the gland duct, which can sometimes be the size of a hen's egg or a Bartholin's abscess (spread to the environment) develops in the lower third of the large or small labia due to inflammatory adhesion of the excretory duct.

Diagnostic assurance

On the basis of the typical clinical picture, the doctor usually recognizes bartholinitis without further examinations. If purulent secretion escapes, he takes a smear to identify the pathogen.



In the early stages of the disease, topical treatment with analgesic and anti-inflammatory solutions is often sufficient. Depending on the causative agent, antibiotics are also used. In order to prevent mutual infection, the partner is also treated.

Operative treatment

If spontaneous evacuation does not occur, the empyema is opened and evacuated in an operation. The doctor sutures the edge of the wound cavity that is turned over to the outer skin (Marsupialization)so that a small opening remains, which prevents the wound edges from sticking together and continues to ensure the function of the Bartholin gland. Bartholin's cysts are also operated on in this way. In chronic bartholinitis, the entire gland is usually surgically removed.


With the appropriate treatment, the prognosis is good.

Your pharmacy recommends

What you can do yourself

In order to prevent mutual infection, the partner should also be treated with antibiotics.

Sometimes cooling compresses and hip baths with disinfecting additives alleviate an incipient inflammation. If a Bartholin empyema has already formed, its maturation and encapsulation is accelerated by bathing in a hip and adding heat.


Dr. med. Astrid Waskowiak, Dr. med. Arne Schäffler in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Revision and update of the sections "Description", "The disease", "Prognosis" and "Your pharmacy recommends": Dagmar Fernholz | last changed on at 11:23

Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.