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Bartholin's cyst - Causes of a Bartholin's cyst

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A Bartholin's cyst is caused by an obstruction that blocks the tube, known as a duct, which leads from the Bartholin's gland into the vagina. This leads to a build-up of fluid, which can turn into a cyst.

Several different types of bacteria can cause an infection that blocks the duct. Some types of bacteria can be passed on through sexual contact while others are found in the environment.

The following types of bacteria may cause a Bartholin's cyst:

  • Gonococcus - usually responsible for gonorrhoea (a sexually transmitted infection) and may be responsible for around a third of Bartholin's cysts
  • Chlamydia trachomatis - usually responsible for chlamydia (another STI)
  • Escherichia coli - often responsible for food poisoning
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae - responsible for pneumococcal infections, such as infections of the inner ear or sinuses
  • Haemophilus influenzae - responsible for a number of infections such as epiglottitis, an infection of the epiglottis (the flap of tissue at the back of your throat)

As some of these bacteria are also responsible for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, you can protect yourself against them by having safer sex.

Medical Review: February 16, 2012
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