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Question: I have been diagnosed with a bartholin's cyst, going into hospital to have it removed. My partner noticed the lump. Can I still have sex before I have an operation or could it burst? Please could you give me as much info as possible. I'm really worried, I had a hysterectomy 5 years ago and had several problems with infections afterwards and it took me two years to get over it medically. Thank you, Dee

Answer: Dear Dee,

The Bartholin's glands are located on each side of the vaginal opening and secrete fluid that helps lubricate the vagina. In some cases, the ducts of these glands become obstructed causing a cyst. Bartholin's cysts can sometimes become infected and usual symptoms include redness, warmth and pain in the affected area.

A cyst that is infected or is very large is usually removed by surgical drainage, a procedure that is performed at the doctor's office under local anesthesia. To do the procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in the cyst to allow it to drain and then places a catherer that stays in place for four to six weeks to keep the opening from closing up and to allow complete drainage. After that, the catheter is removed and the incision heals completely.

Sexual intercourse does not usually burst a cyst and after the operation sex can be resumed, depending on the person's level of comfort. Some doctors may recommend not to have sex until the cyst has healed completely.

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