Rectovaginal Fistula

A rectovaginal fistula is an abnormal connection between the lower portion of your large intestine — your rectum — and your vagina. Bowel contents can leak through the fistula, allowing gas or stool to pass through your vagina.

A rectovaginal fistula may result from:

  • Injury during childbirth
  • Crohn's disease or other inflammatory bowel disease
  • Radiation treatment or cancer in the pelvic area
  • Complication following surgery in the pelvic area

The condition may cause emotional distress and physical discomfort, which can impact self-esteem and intimacy.

Talk with your doctor if you have signs and symptoms of a rectovaginal fistula, even if it's embarrassing. Some rectovaginal fistulas may close on their own, but most need surgical repair.

Symptoms

Depending on the fistula's size and location, you may have minor symptoms or significant problems with continence and hygiene. Signs and symptoms of a rectovaginal fistula may include:

  • Passage of gas, stool or pus from your vagina
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Recurrent vaginal or urinary tract infections
  • Irritation or pain in the vulva, vagina and the area between your vagina and anus (perineum)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse