by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina. Gas or stool may leak from the bowel into the vagina.
A rectovaginal fistula is caused by an injury to this area. It may be caused by trauma or a medical condition.
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a colon and rectal surgeon.
Images of the area may need to be taken. This can be done with:
The goal of treatment is to repair the connection. Options are:
You may be given antibiotics if the area around the fistula is infected.
Rectovaginal Fistula Repair Surgery
Surgery is usually needed. It is done to close the opening between the rectum and vagina. Tissue may be taken from another part of the body as a graft. This tissue will help to close the fistula.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Canadian Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Women's Health Matters—Women's College Hospital
Anorectal malformations. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anorectal-malformations. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Rectovaginal fistula repair. Atlas of Pelvic Surgery website. Available at:
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Accessed August 20, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 8/20/2021