Rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal connection between the rectum and the vagina. Gas or stool may leak from the bowel into the vagina.
Some rectovaginal fistulas close on their own. Most will need a surgery for repair. This condition can be treated. Contact your doctor if you think you may have a fistula.
Healthy Wall Between Vagina and Rectum
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A rectovaginal fistula is caused by an injury to this area. It may be caused by physical trauma or a medical condition.
Factors that may increase your risk of rectovaginal fistula include:
If you have any of these, do not assume it is due to a fistula. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Talk to your doctor if you have:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a colon and rectal surgeon.
Tests may include the following:
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
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.
You may be given antibiotics if the area around the fistula is infected.
There are no steps to prevent rectovaginal fistula.
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
Rectovaginal fistula. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/ . Accessed February 2, 2010.
Wheeless CR, Roenneburg ML. Rectovaginal fistula repair. Atlas of Pelvic Surgery website. Available at: http://www.atlasof... . Accessed February 2, 2010.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013