Foreign Body, Vagina
Vagina Foreign Body Overview
Some objects are designed for use in a woman's vagina. These include tampons, vaginal suppositories, and medications delivered through the vagina. Others are not intended to be inserted and may be placed there accidentally or intentionally. Doctors refer to objects found in the vagina as "foreign bodies." These foreign bodies may produce symptoms or be asymptomatic for long periods of time.
Small objects inserted into the vagina, do not generally cause pain. Unusual objects, generally those larger than the customary vaginal diameter or size of the vaginal entrance (introitus), may cause pain because of distention. Other objects may cause pain due to sharp edges.
Vaginal foreign bodies are more commonly seen in children than adult women. Adolescent girls may seek medical care with foreign bodies in the vagina, which primarily consist of forgotten tampons or broken portions of condoms. Adults may also seek medical care with vaginal foreign objects, which may have been placed there intentionally as part of a sexual encounter or placed as part of an episode of abuse.
While a variety of symptoms may result from a foreign body in the vagina, the most common symptoms are vaginal bleeding or foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Less common symptoms may include pain urinary discomfort (dysuria), or pelvic pressure.
Rarely do foreign bodies produce a systemic infection (an infection that spreads throughout the body through the bloodstream) except in circumstances such as severe immunocompromise or disruption of the vaginal wall with secondary infection. Perforation through the vagina into the abdominal cavity may also result in acute abdominal symptoms.
Chronic consequences of vaginal foreign bodies include imbedding of objects in the vaginal wall, pain with intercourse, bleeding, or the development of fistulae (abnormal openings or connections) between the vagina and the bladder, rectum, or peritoneal cavity.
Janice L Bacon, MD
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