Vaginal abnormality?
September 26, 2021 2:01 AM   Subscribe

YANMD. What could this uncomfortable vaginal thing be?

While applying gel for recurrent BV with my finger, I found what appears to be a small secondary hole inside my vagina along the vaginal wall. It is about the size of my fingertip, is ringed with very tight tissue, was uncomfortable to poke at, and I could only find it in a certain position while standing. I couldn’t find it again while laying down but could find it a second time while standing again. I think it was along the front or side wall of the vagina, not the back wall, but I’m not certain. My vagina continues to be uncomfortable after poking at it but some or all of that may be the BV.

I’m planning to go back to my care provider next week.

What could this be? Is it potentially a fistula? What, if anything, should I do in the meantime till I’m seen again? I know YANM doctor or midwife or nurse.

Possibly relevant details: I have recurrent BV with foul smelling discharge. I have had one vaginal birth several years ago that involved an internal tear which was stitched closed. The tear healed well, to my knowledge. I have mild stress incontinence which seems to be normal after giving birth, and am otherwise continent. I had a vaginal exam with speculum yesterday for the BV - is this something that could have been overlooked?

Throwaway email if you prefer:

Thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

It could be scar tissue from the tear and repair.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:27 AM on September 26, 2021

My GYN now uses a futuristic see-through acrylic speculum like this one. I don't love that it's disposable, but I believe they made the change because metal specula can occlude what the doc can see along the vaginal walls. Given where you found the thing, maybe it was behind the speculum in your previous exam.

Your description of being able to find it while standing but not lying down matches my experience with an inguinal hernia, so maybe it's some herniating.

You don't have some of the more urgent symptoms of a fistula, but BV may be one of the milder ones. Or that could be a total red herring, and it's scar tissue as darlingbri suggests.

A totally normal thing it could be is your cervix, but in my experience women who are comfortable exploring their vaginas by hand are pretty sure what's the cervix and what's not. But it moves around and changes texture throughout your cycle, so I'll mention it here for future explorers in case it's a possibility.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:20 AM on September 26, 2021

It's your cervix, don't worry.
posted by arrmatie at 6:26 AM on September 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don't know what those other things feel like, but the cervix looks about like it feels. Here's a photo of a cervix on wikipedia.
posted by aniola at 8:47 AM on September 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

You should have a doc check. Fistulas are more common than folks think, it could also be the earlier repair or something else entirely. (Also Y' you think grown women who are comfortable with examing themselves digitally, have delivered a child, and use all the correct terminology don't know what their flippen cervix is?!?)
posted by stormygrey at 5:53 PM on September 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Mod note: It is entirely possible for grown adult people with uteruses not to know where their cervix is/what it feels like/how to locate it, even if they've delivered multiple children at a teaching hospital where literally everyone in the world was poking around in there. I, for example, have a relatively extreme retroverted uterus (it's flipped towards the back), which means my cervix is in a non-standard position, which means my gynecologist sometimes has trouble accessing it for a pap smear, and the obstetrical nurses when I delivered had to call a senior nurse who knew how to visualize and/or palpate a cervix that wasn't cooperating. My gyno says it's probably not possible for me to access it myself, like trying to kiss my own elbow. I wouldn't have a clue. People's bodies are different; all that AskMe can do is provide information and suggestions to the OP, that they can follow up on. Please don't be judgmental towards either the OP or other commenters!

but also am 100% in favor of OP seeing a gyno about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:16 PM on September 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

Hi, I’m a midwife and NP. I have a lot of experience with vaginal exams. I am guessing the ring of tissue is high up in the vagina? In which case a cervix is not a bad guess—it usually feels semi-firm, like the tip of your nose, and may have an indentation like a cherry—is that the ring that you felt? If your cervix points backwards, it can be easier to feel when you’re standing up because you’re opening up your pelvis and bringing the cervix forwards. Cervices change gently in position and shape throughout your menstrual cycle (see mybeautifulcervix website for some images).

As Eyebrows says above, so so so SO many people can’t feel their cervix—because it’s high or low, because it’s posterior or anterior or points off to the side or because it’s Tuesday or whatever—and that’s nothing to shame or be shamed about! I can’t tell you how many people can’t feel their IUD threads. And as Eyebrows mentions, even for providers, it can be challenging. For example: I just had a patient the other day, popped a speculum in, saw cervix right away, stopped the exam so patient could pee, and when she came back, took me ages to find her cervix again because her bladder was shifting the position of the pelvic organs. Indeed, it happens all the time.

Re other comments above: I would be surprised if a ring of tissue existed from a vaginal year repair several years ago. The vagina heals quite quickly and well; sometimes you might feel a little bit of a sort of flap but a ring would be unusual. Also, vaginal tissue is softer and wouldn’t usually have a hard ring as you describe.
I also doubt a fistula—that’s a tunnel connecting two different parts, like a rectovaginal fistula. If you had that, you’d be leaking feces, which you don’t describe. You can also have a vesicular-vaginal fistula (tunnel connecting the bladder and vagina), but then you’d be chronically leaking urine, which you also don’t describe. And it sounds like there is an end point to where your finger can reach. Plus a 1 cm fistula would be pretty big. (I’m guessing your fingertips are about as big as mine, 1 cm).

Other ideas are that you’re feeling the posterior fornix (pocket behind the cervix) or something like a wart? Another guess would be if you’d used a pessary for application of the BV gel—sometimes those don’t fully dissolve and maybe you’re feeling a bit of leftover capsule?
Final guess is that you have developed (or always had) a vaginal septum. They can be very minor and if they don’t affect sex or menstruation or childbirth, can often go unnoticed. Usually would feel like a thin membrane dividing the vagina—not sure if that is more tunnel than hole-feeling as you describe.

Of course, TINMA/IANYM/Np! This is absolutely something that most competent providers can take a look at and give you an answer about on the spot, but is impossible to say online without examining you! Given someone had just done a speculum exam, it’s probably nothing serious but worth having someone check again—sometimes people do very focussed exams and might miss small things. Good luck and take care!
posted by stillmoving at 9:55 PM on September 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

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