[Health Rx] How to Handle a Bartholin’s Cyst Pt 2 – Marsupialization

🦘I am more Kangaroo than you 🦘

Georgia O'Keeffe, "Mother of Modernism"

Not even a week and a half after I saw my OB/GYN to get my Bartholin’s Cyst lanced, my Bartholin’s Cyst procedure not only reversed itself – but became worse. For the record, with this type of issue – a recurrence is more common than you would hope. In my support group, some women have had 30+ lanced, or dozens of surgeries; it is depressing and isolating, and feels hopeless. There are no clear answers for us and there is no common fix; no one understands how they’re caused or how to truly treat them…but pretty sure if we were men someone would have made a one time pill for this shit – ANYWAYS.

Admittedly, I’ve been a bit bummed and borderline depressed every since my Bartholin’s Cyst Abscess came back after getting it lanced the first time. So, I figured it couldn’t hurt to finally go through the gauntlet of the recommended homeopathic remedies.

What I tried:

Best Organic Sitz Bath Soak For Postpartum Care Recovery & Natural Hemorrhoid Treatment, Soothes Relieves Pain Reduces Discomfort, 100% Pure Epsom & Dead Sea Salts Witch Hazel Lavender Essential Oil
  • Sitz Baths 2-3x a day with Epsom salts
  • Hot showers with a wash rag of Witch Hazel
  • Hot water bottles CONSTANTLY (but PLZ be careful, I definitely passed out with it one night and got a second degree burn on my leg…)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – applied to a warm wash rag; though, I really do NOT prefer how that makes me smell!
  • PRID – A homeopathic drying salve, this is supposed to assist in relief from the cyst. Thankfully, my husband used to play baseball and said it reminds him of that; so, guess that’s a win? Either way, it made my nether regions officially smell like a farmer’s market.

Though the swelling and constant discomfort went down initially, eventually after a week of the homeopathic treatments the entire Bartholin’s Gland became inflamed and as hard as a rock. I was excited to try the at home methods because I didn’t feel I do not feel nearly as rushed into it as before – however, it wasn’t long after that I came to the conclusion I had to go through a more invasive surgery to get the issue truly handled.

Fast forward to the next Monday, and I’d spent all morning trying to track down a doctor in the Pacific Northwest that not only understood the issues I was dealing with, but was more or less an expert on the Bartholin’s Glands considered with how little is truly known. I scoured the internet for OB/GYN surgeons in the area, and specialty OB/GYN; even trying out of the box ideas, like finding a Urogynecologist in the area and seeing if they could refer me to another clinic.

Being relatively new still to the area, I simply don’t have the bandwidth for that type of medical knowledge up here – but finally realized, that I’ve made friends, colleagues and coworkers with a handful of fantastic fems in the area and decided to hit them up to see if they had a good recommendation; and I’m infinitely grateful they did. When Danny and I moved into our current home last year, I became instant friends with one of the people that used to live here, she still comes around to hang out with our neighbor and the three of us have had some socially distant wine dates over the Summer; being sick of my own body shaming, and my ego, I spilled the beans to both of them and they didn’t skip a beat with recommending an amazing doctor at the University of Washington’s OB/GYN clinic.

Calling last Monday, I was told that the doctor they were pushing wasn’t available for a few months, but -as it turns out – there was a doctor available the day, and she just so happens to be an Associate Professor at UW and she is their resident surgeon on staff, and only comes in on Mondays. After reviewing my files, as well as a thorough examination – we determined we needed to do a more invasive type of surgery, this time – we would be going for a marsupialization.


 • ↠ Marsupialization ↞ •

Management of Bartholin's Duct Cyst and Gland Abscess - American Family  Physician

What does it mean to get a Marsupialization?

Well, besides being a really neat word that makes you feel like a hybrid human-kangaroo; Marsupializations are performed both if drainage isn’t effective, or the cyst is too large or infected for a Word Catheter to make sense. This can happen either in an OR using general anesthesia, or as I found out – it can also be done within your OB/GYN’s office using local anesthesia like lidocaine shots. Word to the wise – if you have a quick metabolism: you will burn through the anesthesia quickly and need more; let your doctor know! Besides the initial series of shots, I had to get about 15 more during the course of the procedure because my body ate through each shot within minutes.

So, what exactly is the Marsupialization Procedure?

After the lidocaine shots, your doctor will use a cold knife to open the gland and drain the cyst. Once the cyst is drained, the area is everted, cleansed and stitched back together using 4-6 stitches to form a small pouch – hence, the term marsuipialization. All in all it takes about 30 to 45 minutes either in the OR or in your doctor’s office.

How to you After Care for it?

Very happy to have taken these last few weeks off work to recover from both surgeries. After the first procedure reversed, I’ve been hesitant to get my hopes up – there’s still a 5-15% failure / return rate. But, after 14 days of doing the least, I’m finally feeling on the mend, minus a little discomfort when I sit thanks to the placement of the gland, and residual inflammation from the incisions and the stitches. I took two weeks off of work, and absolutely recommend that for anyone that gets this procedure done. There is a vast amount of initial discomfort, including issues with going to the bathroom, walking and sitting – and stress does not help; so very glad I’ve taken the time for myself to heal properly. work.


I now have a deeper respect and understanding of my body and mind after feeling the rollercoaster of emotions from the past few weeks. I’m lucky to have such an amazing partner to not only handle this with me, but to handle me going through this. Next time someone says “tough as balls” – please remind them it should REALLLLLY be “tough as a pussy”; between periods, childbirth and poorly researched unique OB/GYN issues- the amount of pain, pressure and discomfort women deal with is phenomenally incredible. Massive respect to all my pretty mommas and badass babes; we run the world.

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) | Pink Spotted Lillies | 1930s, Paintings |  Christie's

[Health Rx] How to Handle a Bartholin’s Cyst

Georgia O'Keeffe on the Art of Seeing – Brain Pickings

Let’s get awkward for a second, y’all – I’m about to COMPLETELY overshare, and I’m in no way ashamed about it. We’re going to talk about an uncomfortable, yet rarely discussed, medical condition that affects 1 in 5 women. I’m writing this because 20% of women will have to handle living with one at some point, and as we all come from women or know them – it helps having a deeper understanding.

🚨 So yeah, spoiler alert: IT’S ABOUT THE FEMALE ANATOMY 🚨

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with a Bartholin’s Cyst. Yesterday, I finally had surgery to have it drained. If you don’t know what a BC is – I sincerely hope you NEVER have to find out. For those that have had them, lived with them and removed them: I have the UTMOST respect for you.


So, what IS a Bartholin’s Cyst?

On either side of the labia sit two glands – the Bartholin’s Glands. What do they do? They lubricate! Sometimes, women get a fluid build up behind the gland, causing a cyst – complete with swelling, discomfort, pressure in the area and pain. At the most basic level, it’s painful to sit, drive, walk, be intimate, wear tight clothing or exercise.


How do you fix a BC?

Start with what you can personally live with. The gland itself is about the size of a pea; originally, I was still dealing a cyst the size of a walnut, and felt uncomfortable wearing shorts and swimsuits. I decided to live with it, because my first doctor told me I would have to have surgery to remove the ENTIRE gland, and I felt that was too extreme of an action. Fast forward to this week, and now I’m sitting on a plum, or as I have been fondly referring to it: my one ball.

Bartholin's Cyst and Abscess Formation | AMI 2019

💫Homeopathic remedies include the following, but I’ve found very little literature verifying any of the methods are truly effective (except the last one):

  • Sitz Baths (or regular baths!) – fill the tub up just a few inches to cover your pelvis, and add Epsom salt. If you’re pre surgery, adding essential oils can be lovely – like Lavender and Rose. If you’re post surgery, make sure you use unfragranced materials.
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Witch Hazel
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Music from Marvin Gaye + Al Green

What happens when you can’t live with it?

It depends on how invasive of a procedure you’re willing to go through, and how bad the area is. All procedures are same day, out patient.

💫 Surgical drainage: after making a small cut in the cyst, your doctor inserts a small rubber tube (catheter) into the opening to allow it to drain. It can stay in place for up to 6 weeks. This can be done in your OB’s office and takes less than 20 minutes.

💫 Marsupialization: (TOTALLY A FUN WORD…) If drainage isn’t effective, or the cyst is infected – the doctor cuts the cyst to open it, then stitches the skin around the cyst to form a small pouch. This can take 30 minutes, and needs to be in an OR.

💫 Removal of the entire gland: For extreme, or continually recurring cases – this is the only option; and was the original option I was given 5 years ago. Must be done in the OR, and takes around an hour.


I had the simplest procedure, done in the office of my OB – and thank you to Swedish Health in Seattle for making me feel so comfortable and strong enough to see it through; my husband and MIL for taking care of me and reminding me to sit down and heal; and the support groups I’ve found on Facebook with strong, badass women.

Even though I was in physical discomfort with the recovery:

💫I’m wearing leggings again, and not just dresses and skirts!

💫I can sit without discomfort of any type

💫I cannot WAIT for the scar to heal, because I finally feel confident rocking my bikini bottoms


Day 1: I was able to sit soundly on my sit bone; which is monumental considering how much discomfort a simple act was causing. I no longer have to pitch my legs to one side, or sit on a pillow, or sit on the floor to maintain my comfort levels – it’s amazing how little things can be taken so for granted.

Day 2: I could move around easier – though the Word catheter did pinch a bit and cause some slight itching and irritation around the scar, it was so much easier to deal with than having the cyst. I did my best to stay rested, but admittedly – have a hard time sitting still.

Today, Day 3 – I woke up and found my catheter had already been pushed out; there’s no physical discomfort left and I feel better than I have in years.


I’m writing this because there is a stigma about discussing any of this; HELL, I’m even a bit uncomfortable writing it. I simply hope at least 1 person is thinking: OH MY GOODNESS, I’M NOT ALONE; because – you’re not, and you, too, can get through this.

Georgia O'Keeffe in New Mexico - Critical Read
Art by Georgia O’Keefe

If you have any tips or tricks on living with a BC, or want to lend your story to other women – feel free to leave a comment below; to my female tribe just remember – together, we can get through anything!

[Health Rx] Be Above What Happens Down Under

Image result for georgia o'keeffe vagina flower

When our body suffers, 99.9% of the time we’re willing to divulge the details to friends and family, overshare the news on social media or with our support group. A broken foot, a sprained knee, a fractured wrist – all injuries that we wouldn’t lament over or hide, bury in the back of our mind and remain silent about.  There are, however, two areas that we hesitate on – our mental health and our reproductive health.  The former I could go on and on about, but that’s for another time – this right here is about the later.

As we push forward into the 21st Century,  you’d think we’d have absolved ourselves from living with a very catholic guilt about our reproductive systems by now – but no, not in the least. Less the fact we all came from one, or that half the population is the proud owner of one, and another large proportion of the world simply enjoys them: reproductive health for both genders is taboo to discuss even though we all ubiquitously contain a set, and in some rare cases both sets, of organs.  Just one mention of reproductive health brings to mind STIs and STDs, unprotected sex, condoms and awkward videos from High School health class.  Those ideas are a roadblock, what’s preventing us from getting beyond it and discussing a wide variety of other common issues that we might not even be aware of.

After being diagnosed with a Bartholin’s Cyst last year, I’ve stayed deep on the hunt for any and all relevant information.  Scouring forums and digesting mountains of medical research, it dawned on me that if women were as open with each other about personal problems down under as they were with their wardrobe or the latest celebrity gossip, we’d have gotten a lot further in the vertical of female reproductive health.

When I first got my cyst, I joked that my vag was ‘broken’, but I could only make that joke to near and dear people that I could count on both hands. Though it made me giggle from time to time to say, inside I had to swallow a hard truth that it’s a lot easier to talk about literally any other organ besides my vagina.  Even now, I’m anxiously laughing while typing this and in the back of my head, I know I’ve never used the word so much as I’m doing now.  But maybe that’s part of the my point: to desensitize, to engage, to see past what society has told us we need to see and face the real issues.

I promise, I’m not bringing this up because I really want to talk about my vag – quite the contrary, I don’t; I’m awkward about talking about my privates like a 13 year old figuring out their first kiss.  But the first step to being real with myself about it is talking about it, or in this case – writing about it.  Writing is my catharsis, my therapy, and the way I get through things – but what good is getting through something for yourself, if you can help others get through it too.

The one thing I’ve realized the more I talk with my doctors, family and mentors is this: you’d think women’s reproductive issues like cysts, and endometriosis would be rare based on the lack of current conversation, but in fact – they’re not uncommon whatsoever, in fact – cysts occur in one out of every 50 women, abscesses are three times more likely to occur than cysts and 1 in 10 suffers from endometriosis.  Meaning the chances of you knowing someone who has had, or will have one is incredibly likely – and now that you know me, here I am – your trusty data point, ready and waiting for instruction.

What’s interesting to know, is that the vagina is the only organ in our body that naturally produces cysts: after our eggs leave the ovary, they travel to the uterus to create a Blastocyst, which them forms into the embryo.  Sometimes, they’re on the larger side – sometimes, they sit on top of the ovary – and sometimes, they dissolve back into the body, unnoticed. That’s fortunately what happened to me.

In a followup appointment a month ago, my OB/GYN discovered a second cyst.  This time, 6 centimeters in diameter and sitting on my right ovary.  If I said I didn’t flip the fuck out, I would be lying.  Which is why I’ve been trying to pen this for almost a month.  Between my pride and my anxiety, the flutterings of an ego attempting to hold on to the last notion that it’ll all be okay and a mental state that screams I’m anything but, I’ve managed. I wanted to sweep this all under a rug, never talk about it and live in a state of semisweet ignorant bliss – but that was all null and void because what I want most of anything is for my karass out there to be aware of what can go on down there.

So, here’s what you can do.  First and foremost, make sure that you’re up to date with all of your doctors appointments. And I mean, all of them; blood-work from your general practitioner could come in handy when you least expect it. Secondly, always go in to your doctor with a checklist of questions and or concerns, and if you don’t want to write down the answers – ask if you can audio record the session to take notes later on.  If you get labs, check beforehand that the right medical codes are on them – and do some price checking so you’re not stuck with a $1000+ bill on what you thought was a routine test.  There’s never enough research, but do yourself a favor and get yourself off of WebMD – your doctor is excellent, and if you don’t think so second opinions exist…but from the girl who self diagnosed with spinal meningitis at the age of 10, maybe save the diagnoses for the real doc. Last, but certainly not least – raise your voice to your support system, you never know which shoulders you can lean on.