What is vaginal gas?
Vaginal gas, or “queefing,” is when air gets trapped inside the vagina. Once air is trapped, it will eventually be released from the vagina and can cause a sound similar to common flatulence from the rectum. It is typically a normal occurrence, and it is rarely a sign of a serious health concern. However, it can either be a passing occurrence, or it may be a symptom of a medical condition that will need to be treated. Let’s look at the causes and when you need to seek medical attention.
Causes of vaginal gas
There are a number of different things that can cause vaginal gas. It is important to know the different causes, as some need to be addressed by a medical professional. Some of these causes include:
Sexual activity is a common cause of vaginal gas. The movement of the penis in and out of the vagina can sometimes cause air to enter and then become trapped. When your muscles tense from an orgasm or when the penis is removed, the gas will then be released. This can cause a noise and feel like bubbles.
Oral sex can cause air to enter the vagina as well. Some forms of rough sex can cause vaginal gas, but they may also cause a spontaneous pneumoperitoneum, which is when air accumulates and gets trapped under your diaphragm. This can cause chest or upper abdominal pain.
Pelvic floor dysfunction
While vaginal noise is not one of the main symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, studies have shown that vaginal noise, similar to common flatus, can be a result of it.
A vaginal fistula is an abnormal, hollow tract between your vagina and another internal abdominal or pelvic organ. They are a potential cause for vaginal gas that is not directly related to sexual activity. There are different types of vaginal fistulas. These types are based on where the hole or tear is in the vagina and which organ the tract connects to. Fistulas need to be addressed by a medical professional and treated.
The type of vaginal fistula seen most often is known as a vesicovaginal fistula. The hole for this type is between your urinary bladder and your vagina. The following is a list of the other types of fistulas and where the tear occurs in the vagina:
- Ureterovaginal fistula occurs between the vagina and ureter(s), which move urine to your bladder from your kidneys.
- Rectovaginal fistula occurs between the vagina and the rectum (near the end of the colon). This may happen during childbirth, but primarily occurs in developing countries without easy or any access to obstetric care. It can also be caused by pelvic surgery, pelvic cancer, radiation treatments around the pelvis to treat pelvic cancer, or from Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (both are types of inflammatory bowel disease). This type of fistula can often cause vaginal gas, particularly when it occurs after childbirth.
- Enterovaginal fistula occurs between the small intestine and the vagina.
- Colovaginal fistula occurs between the colon and the vagina. This is a rare type of fistula and is most often caused by diverticular disease.
- Urethrovaginal fistula occurs between the vagina and the urethra, which is the tube that sends urine out of your body.
Symptoms of a fistula
Vaginal gas is one symptom of a vaginal fistula. Other symptoms depend on the size and type of fistula that you have, but here are some symptoms to look for:
- loose stool leaking into your urine
- urine or vaginal discharge that has a strong unpleasant odor
- vaginitis or urinary tract infections that occur frequently
- incontinence, both fecal and urinary
- discomfort or pain in and around the vagina and rectum
- painful sex
- abdominal pain
Preventing vaginal gas
There are not many things you can do to prevent vaginal gas. It is usually a symptom of other conditions or a natural occurrence during sexual activity. However, there are treatments and surgical procedures that can correct the cause. Even in vaginal gas that occurs due to sexual activity, there may be nonsurgical treatment options that might help stop it from happening.
When to see your doctor
Vaginal gas created during sexual activity is nothing to be concerned about. It’s not a symptom of a medical condition. However, if you’re experiencing vaginal gas at times that are not directly related to sexual activity you should see your doctor. Your doctor can determine if you have a vaginal fistula or whether another medical issue is causing it. Fistulas usually require surgery to repair. If they are not treated or repaired, they may lead to more serious complications if left untreated.
In most cases, vaginal gas can be eliminated when the underlying cause is treated. If a fistula is caught early enough or the hole or tear is very small, it may not require surgery to repair it. However, no matter the cause, it is important that you talk to your doctor if you’re having vaginal gas. This will allow your doctor to discover if it’s a symptom of a fistula or other medical condition that can be treated.