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Vaginal and Recto Vaginal Fistulas

A vaginal fistula is a tract or hole that has opened up from the vaginal wall and connects with another organ in the body. The most common types of vaginal fistula are:

  • Vesicovaginal Fistula – a tract that connects the vagina and the bladder
  • Rectovaginal Fistula – a tract that connects the vagina and the rectum
  • Colovaginal Fistula – a tract that connects the vagina and the colon
  • Enterovaginal Fistula – a tract that connects the vagina and the small intestine

A fistula usually develops after tissue damage or trauma has occurred to the area. They can develop as quickly as several days or occur after several years of damage. A fistula can be caused by surgery trauma, from chronic illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease or diverticulitis, radiation therapy or damage caused by childbirth such a tear or infection in an episiotomy wound.

Symptoms of Vaginal and Recto-vaginal Fistulas

The fistula itself doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort but it will cause unpleasant symptoms such as urine, faeces or wind passing through your vagina causing incontinence. Having continuous leakage in the vaginal area can also lead to infection or soreness

Why might a person with vaginal or recto-vaginal fistulas suffer with bladder or bowel problems?

The first thing you may notice is that you are unable to control urine or faeces from leaking from the vagina, which leads to incontinence issues. This can be quite distressing but there are treatments available to help close the fistula. Treatment usually involves a surgical procedure.

To read about vaginal fistula treatments click here.

THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE IS A GUIDE ONLY. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU SPEAK TO YOUR GP OR A QUALIFIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY TREATMENTS.