[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!

[Keep It 100] Burn Your Bra: Bralettes Are The New Black


Life back when I was a little kid felt so much simpler – parents helped with the meals and laundry, my biggest concern was whether to play four square or tether ball at recess, and wardrobe choices? Easy as pie.  Inundated with the Hollywood scene and celebrity , I always looked forward to when I was ‘old enough’ to wear certain things: dress like those fancy ladies on TV and in the movies, dazzle in designer choices- and finally fill out more than a training bra. You know, a bra with underwire and uumph, pushing out daisies from our chests like the first day of Spring. Besides shaving my legs, it was the milestone that my friends and I were truly waiting for: all my friends older sisters and the teenagers on swimteam had bras, while we were flat-chested and full of wonder on when we’d actually become a ‘woman’.  Fast forward 18 years and I wish I never traded my training bra for the real deal – for multiple reasons.

For one second, lets do some personal little show and tell with me, myself and I.  Ladies, stop me if you’ve felt this way before:  you’ve been looking fly all day in a cute outfit, you’re proud of shape and showing off your wares, and then it hits you – your shoulder blades sting and your chest can only swallow the shallowest of breaths.  Dipping, ducking, dodging and diving your way to the closest restroom, you reach under your shirt and feel the jagged etches that your bra straps have etched on the small of your back – only to leave a rough, red effigy of where the bra sat, sturdily holding up your hooters.  Nine times out of ten, this is when I just say fuck it, take my bra off at the club or music festival and stuff it in the bottom recess of my purse – that tenth time, I’m tossing it in the trash to burn – proverbially speaking, of course.  The last time this happened was at Beyond Wonderland back in March.  I remember romping through the fields debating if beer would help the tightness in my breath while I watched while girls in pasties prance around me without a care in the world.  They were free, their tits were free – and I couldn’t wait to join them.

The Perks of Going Braless

Now, you might be saying – “Oh, hell no, you won’t catch my girls sagging….”Well, I hate to burst your boob-bubble, but in studies of women that don’t wear bras – it’s been shown that their natural lift is better than those who wore them for their entire life. As it turns out, there are tendons and ligaments surrounding our breasts, and the more they’re engaged – the more terrific our titties become.  So, let your body do what it knows how to do! Let your caged birds sing: free your breasts and allow them get a proper workout in by just hanging out.  The end result is your pair will be perkier, and you’ll be happier.

Last year, I started the slow conversation of my undergarment drawer after Danny pointed out that I technically didn’t need to wear a bra, less some redeaming amount of chest coverage.  Fast forward to 2016 and I own maybe one bra with underwire that I actually never wear and continually debate if I should donate or not. I can take the deepest breaths, and I don’t feel pressure on my chest; my back feels long and healthy instead of constricted and I don’t have any pain around my shoulders.  Unlike bras, bralettes have thin or lacy straps, don’t have molded cups or contain any wires; they’re lighter, more airy and have minimal but excellent support.

A day worthy of celebration – October 13th is No Bra Day, and while a few months out – we can certainly start today. I’ve found that unlike their sturdier sister with underwire, bralettes aren’t just more comfortable – they can also be a lot less expensive, depending on where you pick your poison from.  Some of my favorites are from Urban Outfitters – they’re incredibly affordable have literally all the colors and styles you could dream of, and then some!  Other retailers with great bralette and bandeau selections include American Eagle’s Aerie Collection, Abercrombie + Fitch (say what you will, but I worked there for three years and enjoyed myself) as well as Forever 21 and Victoria’s Secret,   which as all the ladies know can get pricey but the good news is the pieces have longevity.  Join the revolution, burn your bra – and come to the bralette side, we have cookies and they’re comfortable.


[Celebrate] International Women’s Day

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

As a child, one of my favorite things was to sit in my parents laps while exploring my sorted multi cultural history.  Though today’s world has become more and more of an ethnic melting pot, back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Mixed Families were fewer and further between but within that caveat of a childhood – there was so much to explore on each side of the family.  Starting when I was in elementary school and going much into adulthood, one of my favorite past times has been learning about and contextualizing my complex family history, on all three sides.

When I was three, my parents split and my father remarried – though i don’t consider myself the product of a ‘broken home’ by society’s standards – I definitely didn’t have a normal upbringing, but my parents always implored how important it was to embrace your roots – no matter where they led. but, for as much as I learned about his side of the family, my grandmother’s parents trials and tribulations leaving Lithuania and Ireland on my father’s side, and into the throws of slave history in Southern, Creole African-America on my Mother’s Side, and a family lineage that I’ve fallen in love with time and time again.

In a predominantly patriarchal society where men are more often than not named after their fathers, and the fathers before them – I’m proud to come from a long line of women that were named in honor of each other.  Yep, my mother, her mother and my great grandmother were all named Lola – I broke the mold by matriculating over to Amanda, but in the back of my head I just can’t help it, and in the depths of my heart I can feel it: I’m a Lola, too.  And then, on my mother’s father’s side of the family – my great grandmother Anita Scott Coleman honed in on life in the American South West and became a prominent author of the Harlem Renaissance, and one of the only women, speaking out about the trials and tribulations of African American culture.  Emblazoning a path that both my mother, and myself, were privy to.

My mother, who deserves an essay or three just about what she’s accomplished in her lifetime, has been one of the biggest role models – if not the role model for my lifetime.  Growing up in Compton in the 1950’s and 60’s with her nose to the books, my mother became valedictorian of her high school and went to both Stanford Undergrad and Grad school on scholarship.  A vital resource in the maths and sciences, she’s not only helped me propel my love of both into both a college major and then into career, but she was a math tutor for my classes growing up – touching the lives and brains of peers left and right. Beyond just being a mother, she was my mentor, my peer and someone I’ve always aspired to be regardless of our differences. Nurture being just as important as nature, I was as influenced by my step-mother as I was my birth mother.  Separating when I was less than two years old, I never had a full grasp on the idea of ‘divorce’, but over time I became increasingly aware of the influence my step mother had in my life – from her calming presence to her endearing anecdotes and nurturing personality.

Whenever I look back on my upbringing with my adult onset hindsight, the trials and tribulations of my teenage years and calamity of college behind me,  I’m continually blown away by the notion that I’ve been surrounded by intelligent, independent, loving, charismatic and creative women my entire life;  women that have done more than pave the way for my family line to excel in the great beyond, but they’ve had a complete affect on the exterior world as well.  Now that I’ve had ample time to process the cross cultural melting pot that’s defined where I’ve come from and all of the idiosyncrasies that amass into who I am in the context of today’s society, I’ve become overwhelmed with pride for the female predecessors who’ve paved the way for the women of today and have fought for gender equity and equality, as well as a host of other social rights – not to mention, the right to vote and the right to choose. 

The nuanced difference between ‘Gender Equity’ and ‘Gender Equality’is an important facet of Women’s Rights.   Gender Equity implies that men and women are given the same resources and programs within society, a way of promoting gender ‘fairness’ and implying a world of equal opportunity regardless of your given sex. A byproduct of  Gender Equity, Gender Equality correlates to a society where men and women can cohesively have access to and enjoy the same facets of society; it seems one cannot exist without the other.


Though I don’t necessarily think that women need a day set aside from men to honor their achievements, every now and again it’s beneficial to give ourselves pause and understand the brevity of our history, the circumstances that we fought against and others that we conquered. The irony, at times, is that it feels like women can hold our gender back as much – if not more – than men do.  Be it ‘slut’ shaming, body shaming or gossip behind each others backs, the catty behaviors we engage in with each other wage small battles between us women instead of focusing on the bigger gender inequality ‘war’ at hand and speak volumes on our personal self-esteem.  As women, we can accomplish more together than we can as individuals – but that’s only if we have each others undivided support, not their indifference.  Instead of talking about them, talk to them – if there’s something you don’t understand, don’t immediately dislike it – seek to be engaged. Women as a whole can’t be propelled forward if we’re trying to hold each other back. We can influence the world to be collectively better through creativity, courage and charisma instead of cold shoulders and callous behavior.  Not to mention, It’s the 21st century, and it’s time to embrace our independence, intelligence and sexual identities.

Within every vertical of society, from science and technology to sports, women have been valiantly leveling the playing field while defying the odds and overcoming adversity. In 1896, Wyoming became the first state to give Women the vote, in 1916 the United States elected the first woman to the House of Representatives, and now in 2016 – there’s a chance we could see our first woman president. Billie Jean King put Women on the map in the Tennis world decades ago, fast forward to modern times and we have Becky Hammon as the first female coach in the NBA working as a Part Time coach for the San Antonio Spurs while the Buffalo Bills have brought on Kathryn Smith as the NFL’s First Full Time Female Coach.

If you’re still in the mood for inspiration, fantastic creative females like Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Etta Jamesand Amy Tan seep their literature and music in their femininity while historical figures like Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Mae C. Jemison, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Marie Curie, Margaret Mead, Rosa Parks, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Page and so many more have caused our society to have in depth, personal and social reflections and explorations on what it means to revel in femininity. These are w omen that not only taught me grace, beauty, independence and determination, but that it’s more than okay to fight for what you want, it’s mandatory if you are seeking to change the way the world accepts you. It’s the 21st century and it’s time to stop seeing gender as a quantitative category that defines and holds back members of society and instead see it as a platform to engage.

Whether old or young, a mentor, a parent or a friend – celebrate the women in your life by discovering their passions and providing support while they unleash themselves on the world.   In honor of International Women’s Day, I’ve included a fantastic TED Talk from Reshma Saujani entitled ‘Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection’ – an important piece of advice for women and the men who love, cherish, admire and learn from them.

Who are the most influential women in your life and how are you choosing to celebrate them today?

Celebrated annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day is a chance to honor the dedicated, driven, determined women working for gender equality around the globe while at the same time, revel in Women’s achievements across cultural, social, economic and political spheres, in addition to gender equality.

 For more on International Women’s Day, head to their website and socials:

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