Symptoms and Signs of Foreign Body, Vagina

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 8/1/2022

Doctor's Notes on Foreign Body, Vagina

Some objects are designed for use in a woman's vagina such as tampons, vaginal suppositories, medications delivered through the vagina, and sex toys. Foreign bodies are things not meant for insertion into the vagina that may be placed there accidentally or intentionally. 

Foreign bodies in the vagina may or may not produce symptoms. Small objects inserted into the vagina generally do not cause pain. Large or sharp objects may cause pain. Symptoms of a foreign body in the vagina include

  • vaginal discharge (generally foul-smelling and yellow, pink, or brown),
  • vaginal bleeding,
  • vaginal itching or foul odor,
  • urinary symptoms such as discomfort with urination,
  • vulvar discomfort due to vaginal discharge producing skin irritation, or
  • abdominal or pelvic pain from placement of large objects or perforation of a foreign body into the peritoneal cavity.

Symptoms that can accompany the presence of a foreign body in the vagina include

  • skin redness,
  • dwelling of the vagina and vaginal entrance, and
  • a rash in the vaginal area.

Symptoms of complications of a foreign body in the vagina include

  • disorders of urination or bowel function,
  • loss of bladder control (incontinence) or abnormal bowel function,
  • blood in the urine or stool,
  • fever, or
  • signs of serious infection.

What Is the Treatment for a Foreign Body in the Vagina?

The treatment for a foreign body in the vagina is to remove it as soon as possible. Patients may be able to remove uncomplicated foreign bodies on their own with their fingers. People should never insert any devices, clamps, tools, or swabs on their own to remove a stuck foreign body. Patients should go to their gynecologist or an emergency room for foreign bodies they cannot remove themselves.

There is increased risk of infection the longer a foreign body stays in the vagina. If there is any pain, odor, discharge, abdominal pain, or fever associated with a retained foreign body, go to an emergency room right away. If you have a fever and severe abdominal pain and are unsure if there is a retained vaginal foreign body, go to the emergency room immediately. Patients with these symptoms may need antibiotics and possibly surgery for the retained vaginal foreign body and resulting infections.

After removal of the foreign body, if there is mild irritation, mild discharge, or residual pain, see your gynecologist for follow up.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.