Vaginal Fistula: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Urogynecology is a medical subspecialty that combines the practices of urology and gynecology to effectively diagnose and treat conditions affecting women. Some of the most common urogynecology conditions include cystocele, enterocele, genital prolapse, urinary incontinence, and more. For the purpose of this blog, the physicians at Specialty Surgical Center are going to discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments for a unique urogynecology disorder that is called a vaginal fistula.
A fistula is a general medical term that describes an abnormal connection between two organs. Fistulas can develop in an artery, colorectal organ, or reproductive organ. In this instance, a fistula forms in the wall of the vagina and connects itself to a nearby organ. There are different kinds of fistulas that can develop and affect various organs. For example, a vesicovaginal fistula describes a passage or hole that forms between the vagina and urinary tract. Other examples include a rectovaginal fistula, colovaginal fistula, and enterovaginal fistula.
Vaginal fistulas are usually caused by prolonged tissue damage to one specific area in the organ. Over time, the damaged tissue breaks down and causes a fistula to open up. Some of the most common causes of a vaginal fistula include:
- Surgery to the vagina, perineum, anus, or rectum
- Cancer treatment, specifically radiation therapy
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- A tear in the perineum after childbirth
Fortunately, vaginal fistulas are, for the most part, painless. While they may not cause physical discomfort, vaginal fistulas can lead to urinary issues, such as urinary incontinence. It’s important to see a physician right away about a vaginal fistula because this condition causes feces and urine to pass into the vagina. If this occurs for an extended period of time, an infection may develop. Specific vaginal fistula symptoms include:
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Gas releasing from the vagina
- Vaginal infections
- Soreness around the genital area
Treatment for a vaginal fistula depends largely on the cause and patient’s symptoms. More often than not, the fistula will need to be repaired through a minimally invasive procedure. Before the patient undergoes surgery, he or she may be asked to take antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. Moreover, underlying conditions will need to be evaluated to determine supplemental treatment options.
If you suffer from a vaginal fistula, let the experts at Specialty Surgical Center help! For more information about our practice, please call 973-940-3166 or visit our Contact Page.
Specialty Surgical Center is located in Sparta, New Jersey, and our staff consists of board certified surgeons and anesthesiologists performing procedures in Orthopedics, Sports Medicine, Spinal Care, Podiatry, Urology, Pain Management, ENT, Hand Surgery, Lithotripsy, Brachytherapy, GYN and Laser Surgery.