Foreign Body, Vagina (cont.)
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Vaginal Foreign Body Causes
The most common foreign body of the vagina in small children is small amounts of fibrous material from clothing, carpets, etc. Other foreign objects found in the vagina in children may be placed there at a time of self-exploration. They may be forgotten, or once placed in the vagina, unable to be removed by the child. Other common objects include marker caps or crayons. The objects found in children generally are small and do not cause pain from distention of the hymen or vaginal opening at the time of placement. Children will generally not place objects larger than the vaginal entrance due to discomfort.
Adolescent women may use tampons once they begin menstruating. Occasionally, these tampons are forgotten and may not be removed for days. The breakage of a condom may also result in bits of latex or non-latex material being left in the vaginal vault.
Adults may place foreign objects into the vagina as part of a sexual experience or for sexual stimulation. Less commonly, unusual objects may be placed in the vagina as the result of abuse. Adults may also experience forgotten tampons or bits of a condom.
While small objects placed in the vagina may remain asymptomatic for a period of time, larger objects may produce pain or discomfort immediately, thus precipitating a visit to the health care professional.
Occasionally a foreign body may be left inadvertently in the vagina because of altered mental status. Those psychiatric conditions most often associated with this event include altered consciousness from alcohol or drugs, dementia, schizophrenia, or self-injurious behaviors. Caustic substances - chemicals, batteries - may result in chemical burns to the vaginal tissue with secondary scarring (strictures) or altered vaginal dimensions.
Rarely, anatomical abnormalities of the vagina such as a vaginal septum (a wall of tissue that separates the vagina into two sections) or septum of the hymen (extra hymeneal tissue that runs vertically to a normal hymen) may allow an object (such as a tampon) to be placed into the vagina, but not easily removed.
Objects may be placed in the vagina and enhance the sexual pleasure of the patient or her partner. Occasionally these may be unable to be removed by the patient or her partner (for example, marbles, beads).
Janice L Bacon, MD
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