Vaginal Gas – What should you know about it?
Vaginal gas (as the name indicates) refers to release of gas from the vaginal canal. The pathophysiology revolves around the release of small entrapped bubbles of air from the vaginal canal. This often creates a sound that is fairly similar to flatulence and often leads to embarrassing situation for the affected females.
It is noteworthy that formation of fairly large pockets of air in the vaginal cavity is a common occurrence, but is generally not associated with any major health risks.
What are some common causes of Vaginal Gas?
Following are some common causes of vaginal gas:
1 – Pelvic Floor Conditions
Some common pelvic floor conditions that may present with vaginal gas are:
- Incontinence of urine (the involuntary leakage of urine in situations of increased intraabdominal pressure is usually a result of weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles as well as urinary sphincters.
- Pelvic organ prolapse (the drop/prolapse of pelvic organs such as uterus, urinary bladder etc.) from its anatomical place into the vaginal canal) is also a result of pelvic floor dysfunction
- Incontinence of feces (the inability to control bowel movements)
Weak or damaged pelvic floor muscles are usually caused by childbirth trauma or injuries, advanced age or longstanding constipation that increases the strain on bowel and morbid obesity.
2 – Sexual Activity
Sexual intercourse can also lead to entrapment of air inside the vagina. The vaginal canal expands and contracts when aroused, thus allowing seepage of air into the vaginal. Same process or mechanism is responsible for seepage of air when penis, or any other object, enters the vagina. Once the excess air is released, it creates the sensation of flatulence through the vaginal region.
In very rare cases, the excess air can travel toward the diaphragm, thus causing both chest and abdominal pain.
3 – Female Hygiene Products:
As mentioned in the section above, if anything inserted into the vagina, the air also seeks entry into the canal and gets entrapped. This holds the same for female hygiene products such as menstrual cups as well as tampons. The air is then released when the women is performing strenuous physical activity, such as stretching or when is product is being removed from the vagina.
4 – Other activities
Some gynecological exams can lead to the muscles in the vaginal area to become tense, especially when there is a medical instrument being inserted into the vagina. Some stretching exercises, such as yoga, can result in the relaxation of the vaginal muscles. In both cases, pockets of air can get trapped within the vagina.
5 – Fistulas
A fistula refers to formation of an abnormal, hollow communication between two organs that were otherwise not connected. Some key causes are, instrumental delivery, formation or release of a scar tissue, longstanding inflammatory condition erc.. These may also sometimes cause vaginal gas.
Vaginal Gas Prevention
Vaginal gas is considered harmless and entirely painless. However, if one is facing trouble with regard to the discharge of vaginal gas, then certain activities such as squatting down or relaxing the muscles surrounding the vagina through deep breathing and other relaxation exercises can help release excess air from the vagina. If the problem persists, it would be a good idea to avoid activities that lead to the onset of vaginal gas.
When to See a Doctor
In very rare cases, the presence of vaginal gas could be a symptom of an underlying and more serious problem. A person should seek medical attention if vaginal gas follows or is accompanied by:
- Childbirth; especially after complicated or instrumental delivery
- Radiation therapy of the pelvic region
- If vaginal gas is also accompanied with a foul-smelling odor or discharge
- Pain or discomfort
- Urinary leakage or increased discharge
- Gynecological, abdominal or pelvic surgeries
- Feces or other waste
- Inflammation or swelling of vaginal tissues
You should see a doctor if you are experiencing excessive formation of vaginal gas at all times as this may be a sign of more serious issues such as vaginal fistula (communication between vagina and other abdominal structures)
- Grange, P., Giarenis, I., Rouse, P., Kouriefs, C., Robinson, D., & Cardozo, L. (2014). Combined vaginal and vesicoscopic collaborative repair of complex vesicovaginal fistulae. Urology, 84(4), 950-954.