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What are Bartholin's glands?

Q: The Bartholin's glands are infected with Staphylococcus. Is this related to the continous running of pus in the vagina?

A:Bartholin's glands are a pair of oval, pea-sized glands around the opening of the vagina which have tiny tubes or ducts that open out into the vulva - the folds of flesh surrounding the vagina. These glands play an important role during sex because during sexual arousal they secrete a fluid which acts as a lubricant in the area. Infection of the Bartholins glands is known as bartholinitis. Its intensely painful because this area of the body has many finely tuned nerve endings. The infection causes the glands to swell. Treatment consists of antibiotics, painkillers and warm baths. If an abscess or collection of pus forms (or sometimes a painless cyst), an operation may be necessary to drain the pus and remove the gland. Bartholinitis may be caused by a variety of bacteria. Usually, the bacteria are the type commonly found on the skin or in the gut, which cause abscesses and infections elsewhere in the body. These are known as staphylococci, streptococci or coliforms. In some cases, you may simply have picked up the bacteria from your own skin surface and for some reason, perhaps some sort of brief and temporary breakdown in your immunity, an infection forms. But another important cause of bartholinitis is gonorrhoea, which is a sexually transmitted infection. If youre worried that your partner may have passed on this infection, or with your symptoms such as a vaginal discharge, you should see your doctor again to discuss this because youll need specific antibiotics and your boyfriend will need to be treated, too. Your doctor should take swabs at the time of diagnosis to determine which bacteria was causing the infection, so he or she may be able to tell you immediately if the infection was sexually transmitted. You can have sex again as soon as sexually transmitted infection has been ruled out (otherwise theres a risk you may pass it on to your partner) and as soon as you feel comfortable. Dont worry about lubrication - even if both Bartholins glands are scarred or removed there are plenty of other glands in the area producing lubricant fluids during sex.

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