What is a vesicovaginal fistula?

A fistula is an unwanted opening that develops between two parts of the body. The causes for this can include infections, injuries, and inflammation. Fistulas can occur in many parts of the body.

A vesicovaginal fistula is an opening that develops between the bladder and the wall of the vagina. The result is that urine leaks out of the vagina, sometimes lightly but it can be steady if the fistula is large. In addition to being a serious medical problem, this condition is very upsetting to women. The leakage is embarrassing and can smell bad.

What causes a vesicovaginal fistula?

Vesicovaginal fistulas are often a complication after surgery to treat problems in the bladder or vagina. They also can be linked to gynecological cancer, either from the disease or sometimes as a side effect of radiation therapy or surgery to treat the cancer. Particularly bad or repeat urinary tract infections can sometimes lead to fistulas too, but this is rare.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/25/2017.

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