Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Vaginal Fistula
A fistula is a passage or hole that has formed between:
A fistula that has formed in the wall of the vagina is called a
See pictures of a
vesicovaginal fistula and a
A vaginal fistula starts with some kind of tissue damage. After
days to years of tissue breakdown, a fistula opens up.
A vaginal fistula sometimes happens after:
In areas where women have no health care nearby,
vaginal fistulas are much more common. After days of pushing a baby that does
not fit through the birth canal, very young mothers can have severe vaginal,
bladder, or rectal damage, sometimes causing fistulas.
A vaginal fistula is painless. But a fistula lets urine or feces
pass into your vagina. This is called incontinence. And it can cause
soiling problems that you cannot control.
Your symptoms are the most clear signs of a vaginal fistula. Your
doctor will want to talk about your symptoms and about any surgery, trauma,
or disease that could have caused a fistula. For a physical exam, your doctor
will use a
speculum to look at the vaginal walls. You may have
other tests, such as:
Your doctor may also use an X-ray, endoscope or MRI to get a clear look
and check for all possible tissue damage.
If you have a vaginal fistula, you will most likely need surgery
to repair it. Before surgery, your doctor will see whether the tissue is
healthy or needs to heal first.
After fistula repair surgery, be sure to follow your doctor's
instructions. See your doctor right away if you have signs of infection, such
as a fever, tenderness, swelling, or redness.
Other Works Consulted
Katz VL (2012). Postoperative counseling and management. In GM Lentz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 6th ed., pp. 583–621. Philadelphia: Mosby.
Lentz GM (2012). Anatomic defects of the abdominal wall and pelvic floor. In GM Lentz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 6th ed., pp. 453–474. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
Wong M, Ozel B (2010). Fistulae. In Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 328–332. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerDeborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as ofFebruary 25, 2016
Current as of:
February 25, 2016
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.