Bartholin's gland

Bartholin's gland

Bartholin's gland
Female genital organs
Latin glandula vestibularis major
Precursor Urogenital sinus
external pudendal artery[1]
ilioinguinal nerve[1]
superficial inguinal lymph nodes
MeSH A05.360.319.887.220
Bartholin gland
Anatomical terminology

The Bartholin's glands (also called Bartholin glands or greater vestibular glands) are two pea sized compound racemose glands[2] located slightly posterior and to the left and right of the opening of the vagina. They secrete mucus to lubricate the vagina and are homologous to bulbourethral glands in males. However, while Bartholin's glands are located in the superficial perineal pouch in females, bulbourethral glands are located in the deep perineal pouch in males. Their duct length is 1.5 to 2.0 cm and open into navicular fossa.[2] The ducts are paired and they open on the surface of the vulva.


  • Function 1
  • Clinical significance 2
  • History 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Bartholin's glands secrete mucus to provide vaginal lubrication.[3][4] Bartholin's glands secrete relatively minute amounts of fluid when a woman is sexually aroused.[5] The minute droplets of fluid were once believed to be important for lubricating the vagina, but research from Masters and Johnson demonstrated that vaginal lubrication comes from deeper within the vagina.[5] The fluid may slightly moisten the labial opening of the vagina, serving to make contact with this sensitive area more comfortable for the woman.[5]

Clinical significance

It is possible for the Bartholin's glands to become blocked and inflamed resulting in pain.[5] This is known as bartholinitis or a Bartholin's cyst.[6] A Bartholin's cyst in turn can become infected and form an abscess. Adenocarcinoma of the gland is rare, but benign tumors and hyperplasia are even more rare.[7]


De ovariis mulierum et generationis historia epistola anatomica, 1678

Bartholin's glands were first described in the 17th century by the Danish anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Younger (1655–1738).[8] Some sources mistakenly ascribe their discovery to his grandfather, theologian and anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Elder (1585–1629).[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b Greater Vestibular (Bartholin) gland
  2. ^ a b Manual of Obstetrics. (3rd ed.). Elsevier. pp. 1-16. ISBN 9788131225561.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c d
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Bartholin's gland at Who Named It?
  9. ^ C. C. Gillispie (ed.): Dictionary of Scientific Biography, New York 1970. See the article on Thomas Bartholin.

External links

  • Anatomy photo:41:11-0200 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center—"The Female Perineum: Muscles of the Superficial Perineal Pouch"
  • Anatomy image:9243 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center
  • Anatomy image:9694 at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center—opening