A rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal tunnel-like pathway that forms between the rectum and the vagina. Contents from the rectum may leak through the fistula into the vagina and then out of the body.
Causes of rectovaginal fistulas
Most often a rectovaginal fistula is caused by complications during child birth. If the perineum (the area between your vagina and your anus) tears or must be cut, it may become infected and lead to a rectovaginal fistula.
Other contributing causes may include infections, Crohn’s disease, surgical procedures, or radiation treatments.
The most specific symptom of a rectovaginal fistula is the leakage of digestive gas or stool from the vagina.
Other symptoms may include:
Pain and irritation in your perineum
Pain during intercourse
Discolored, smelly vaginal discharge
Repeated vaginal infections
Repeated urinary tract infections
Trouble controlling bowel movements
The most common way a rectovaginal fistula is diagnosed is with a physician physically examining the area. Your doctor may want to order additional tests to tailor treatment for your condition.
Based on your condition, your surgeon will provide you with the best options for proceeding.