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.

Oct. 17, 2015