Hi Dr Northrup,
I have a swollen Bartholin’s gland. It’s mildly uncomfortable but fairly large. I also have a little soreness in my pelvic lymph glands on the same side (right side). I feel like this is probably related to a sensual encounter a couple weeks ago that did not feel that good to me and I didn’t say anything about it. I’ve had this happen once in the past (8 years ago) and I saw a naturopath who gave me a cream to put on it, which worked. I would like to do something to help my body heal and avoid this happening in the future. Can you give me any information that can help with that? Also, do you think that I should avoid self pleasuring until it heals? I really appreciate your help and being able to ask you this question! – L.F. (Ithaca)
The first thing I’d like to do is congratulate you for making the connection between having sex that didn’t feel good to you and the subsequent development of a Bartholin’s cyst in your vulva. I’ve often said that when our upper lips (those around our mouth), can’t speak, our lower lips (genitals) will do it for us.
Bartholin’s glands are located in either side of the opening of the vagina, just inside the outer lips, at about the area of the hymeneal ring. Their purpose is to produce moisture to keep the area in good health. Sometimes, particularly when there is genital inflammation of any kind, such as you describe, the gland opening will become plugged. The result is a cyst. These cysts can become infected and form abscesses which are full of pus. It doesn’t sound as though yours has progressed that far, even though it’s a little sore. So proceed to my treatment plan below.
For the record, the treatment for a Bartholin’s abscess or recurrent cyst is incision and drainage under local anesthesia. It’s also possible to make a tiny incision and insert a little inflatable balloon into the cyst cavity that stays there for a week or so. This allows the cyst to drain and helps form a bigger opening so that the cyst won’t recur in the future.
In your particular case, I would recommend sitting in a hot bath filled with Epsom salts (about 1 cup per bath) twice per day for 20-30 minutes. Epsom salts is made from magnesium sulfate, which tends to have a beneficial effect on swollen tissue. It’s also very relaxing. So why not make the most of it. Light a candle, play some music, and bring in a good book!
Another excellent treatment is a little tea tree oil rubbed on the cyst area a couple times per day after your bath.
In addition to making the treatment maximally pleasurable for yourself, I’d also recommend that you make it even more healing. Cup one hand your over your genitals and put the other over your heart. Visualize sending the compassionate energy of your heart down to your genitals (low heart.) And say the following affirmation out loud: “I love and respect you. I will listen to your wisdom from this day forward. You are safe with me. All is well.”
Gentle self-pleasuring is just fine. I would focus on your G spot (sacred spot)—stimulating that with your fingers or something else (your choice.) And keep connecting with your heart while you do this—breathing the energy of your heart into this area. (For a complete set of instructions for enlivening this area, please see Emergence of the Sensual Woman by Saida Desilets, Ph.D.) – C.N.
Learn More — Additional Resources
- Emergence of the Sensual Woman by Saida Desilets, Ph.D.