Vesicovaginal Fistula (VVF) is a type of vaginal fistula. A vaginal fistula is a passage or hole that connects the vagina to other organ in the body like the bladder, colon or rectum. A vaginal fistula usually starts with tissue damage. Days or months after the tissue breaks down, a fistula opens up.
A vaginal fistula often develops as a result of an injury, surgery, radiation treatment for pelvic cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, a tear in the perineum, an infected episiotomy after delivery or infection.
VVF is a condition where there is a passage (connection) between the vagina and the bladder. This passage leads to continuous leakage of urine from the bladder into the vagina.
In advanced countries, the most common cause of VVF is gynecologic surgery and radiation therapy for gynecologic cancer. In developing and underdeveloped countries, the most common cause of the condition is prolonged labor during childbirth. This is due to the lack of modern obstetrics care and lack of access to health care.
According to Fistula Foundation, Nigeria has the world’s highest burden of VVF. In Nigeria, there are thousands of women diagnosed with the condition and most do not have access to care. VVF can be a very difficult condition to live with, although not painful, it significantly affects the quality of life of those affected.
Here are four things you should know about VVF in developing and underdeveloped countries:
- It mostly affects young girls
- Women who have had children can also develop the condition from prolonged labor
- In a number of cases, the prolonged labor does not only result in VVF but also in a still birth
- A lot of women and their families with the condition are not aware of what it is