Vaginal Foreign Bodies
Bacterial infections or alteration in the normal bacterial flora of the vagina may be due to the presence of a foreign body altering the usual environment of the vagina. Removal may be performed with the forceps or with a warm water irrigation of the vagina. Once the foreign object is moved, antibiotics are generally not needed.
In children, vaginal lavage or irrigation is the method of choice to remove small bits of fibrous tissue. Removal of larger objects may be accomplished in the outpatient setting or may require sedation or evaluation in the operating room. Analgesia or anesthesia at the time of removal may make the procedure more comfortable.
Teenagers and older women may generally have foreign bodies removed in the outpatient setting; however, those patients who are unable to cooperate for an exam may also benefit from sedation or removal in the operating room.
Larger objects and those causing pain after placement in the vagina may require anesthesia for complete removal and inspection of the vaginal walls. These more complex procedures may require antibiotics.
Larger objects and objects causing painful infections will require anesthesia for pain and relaxation of vaginal muscles. Objects that have moved from the vagina to the abdomen or to other parts of the body will require surgery for removal.
Once the object is removed and antibiotics are given, infection, fever, pain, and vaginal discharge should soon clear up.
If symptoms of vaginal discharge, bleeding, abnormal odor, or urinary tract symptoms continue after an object has been removed, a repeat evaluation by a health care provider is recommended.
If symptoms resolve once a foreign body is removed, follow-up may not be necessary.
Repeat examination may be recommended if the health care provider is not certain the entire object has been removed or if any complexities, such as secondary infection is diagnosed at the time of removal of the foreign body.
Prevention of infections related to foreign objects in the vagina begins with good vulvovaginal hygiene.
- In young children, parents should instruct perineal cleaning by wiping front to back. This will decrease the amount of bacteria and feces that may enter the vagina. Poor perineal hygiene may cause irritation of the vulva or vagina.
- Parents can also aid in the prevention of foreign bodies of the vagina by talking with children about their bodies and teaching them the proper names of their body parts, such as vagina, urethra, anus, and rectum. Knowing the correct names of body parts will allow children to better communicate any problems. For example, children may be able to describe these body parts to adults in instances of pain, discharge, or possible abuse.
- For older girls and women, good hygiene includes limiting the amount of time objects remain in the vagina. Tampons should be used no longer than six to eight hours.
- Sexual activities resulting in painful placement of objects in the vagina should be avoided.
Medications for vaginal infections or irritation should be used only when prescribed by a health care provider. Patients may commonly misdiagnose the reasons behind vaginal discharge. Douches or vaginal washes are not needed to clean the vagina. Repeated douching may increase the risk of infection due to washing away the normal bacteria which help to fight infection. Showers and baths are satisfactory for cleaning the vaginal area.