Female genital organs
|Artery||external pudendal artery|
|Lymph||superficial inguinal lymph nodes|
|Latin||glandula vestibularis major|
The Bartholin's glands (also called Bartholin glands or greater vestibular glands) are two pea sized compound racemose glands 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. The ducts are paired and they open on the surface of the vulva.
Bartholin's glands secrete mucus to provide vaginal lubrication. Bartholin's glands secrete relatively minute amounts of fluid when a woman is sexually aroused. The fluid may slightly moisten the labial opening of the vagina, serving to make contact with this sensitive area more comfortable.
It is possible for the Bartholin's glands to become blocked and inflammed resulting in pain. This is known as bartholinitis or a Bartholin's cyst. 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. Bartholin gland carcinoma is rare malignancy that occurs in 1% of vulvar cancers. This may be due to the presence of three different types of epithelial tissue.
Bartholin's glands were first described in the 17th century by the Danish anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Younger (1655–1738). Some sources mistakenly ascribe their discovery to his grandfather, theologian and anatomist Caspar Bartholin the Elder (1585–1629).
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- 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