A vaginal fistula is an abnormal opening that connects the vagina with another organ, such as the bladder, colon, or rectum. Your doctor may diagnose the condition as an opening in your vagina that allows stool or urine to pass through the vagina.
Vaginal fistulas can occur because of an injury, surgery, infection, or radiotherapy. Regardless of the cause of the fistula, you may need to have it closed by a surgeon to restore normal function in this area.
There are several types of vaginal fistulas:
The opening occurs in this type between the vagina and urinary bladder and this is the most common type of vaginal fistula.
This type of fistula occurs when an abnormal opening develops between the vagina and the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureter).
In this type of fistula, also called a urethral fistula, the opening occurs between the vagina and the tube that carries urine outside the body (urethra).
In this type of fistula, the opening is between the vagina and the lower part of the large intestine (rectum).
In this type of vaginal fistula, the opening occurs between the vagina and colon
In this type of fistula, the opening occurs between the small intestine and the vagina.
The symptoms of the vaginal fistula vary according to its length and location in the vagina. The fistula itself does not cause any pain, but it causes a number of symptoms including:
- Gases and unpleasant smell coming out of the vagina
- Foul-smelling discharge or pus exuding from the vagina
- Fecal leakage into the urine
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Diarrhea and rectal pain
- Inflammation around the urethra, constant urge to itch
- Burning sensation during urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Nausea and abdominal pain
If some of the above symptoms are noticed, the patient should visit and consult the doctor immediately. The fistula may represent the first sign of a medical problem that poses a risk to the patient’s life; For example, the problem may be an inflamed abscess filled with pus, or in other cases, cancer. Diagnosing the fistula and determining its cause is an important and essential part of developing an appropriate plan for treating the vaginal fistula.