A genital injury to a female is an injury to the reproductive organs of a girl or a woman.
The external genitalia has a rich blood supply. As a result, relatively minor injuries to the area may bleed excessively. This is particularly true when injuries involve the hymen, vagina, or labia. The injury may be the result of childbirth, rough intercourse, sexual assault, or an accident or other trauma.
Childbirth is the most likely cause of genital injury. A tear in the vulva or vagina during pregnancy and delivery may occur as a result of:
Accidental injuries can be caused by:
Injuries related to sex or assault are due to:
If the injury is to the inside of the vagina, the girl or woman may not have any bleeding or pain. Sometimes these internal injuries affect the bladder, rectum, and other organs in the abdomen. Symptoms may include:
It may be hard to do a pelvic exam in woman or girl who has a genital injury. But without a thorough exam, a healthcare provider may misjudge the extent and severity of the injury. Sometimes the exam is done with the woman or girl under general anesthesia.
Other procedures that may be done include:
Vaginal injuries related to high-pressure water injection can be prevented by wearing protective clothing such as a wet suit while water or jet skiing. Keeping one's feet together when entering the water on a slide will keep water from entering the vagina.
Preventing sexual assault may not be possible, but it is clear that the victim of this brutality should not be blamed. Women should avoid situations that can bring physical or sexual harm, such as:
Children should be told that they should not place objects into the vagina. Also, getting rid of sharp objects in the tub that they may fall on can prevent injuries.
Genital injuries need to be treated right away to prevent bleeding, complications, and long-term psychological damage. Genital injuries in girls will very likely create a lot of anxiety for the child as well as for her parents.
A genital injury can pose a risk to a fetus if the woman is pregnant. Other risks may occur from some of the secondary effects of genital injury, such as sexually transmitted diseases.
Treatment varies according to the severity of the injuries. Treatments may include:
Antibiotics can cause stomach upset, rash, allergic reaction, and other side effects. Surgery poses a risk of infection, bleeding, and allergic reaction to anesthesia.
Bed rest, ice packs, and antibiotics may be needed for some time depending on the extent of the injuries. Not having sex for a while will allow the tissues to heal.
A woman or girl should notify her healthcare provider if she notices any of the following:
Author:Eva Martin, MD
Editor:Smith, Elizabeth, BA
Reviewer:Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
Understanding Your Body, Felicia Stewart, Felicia Guest, Gary Stewart, and Robert Hatcher, 1987
Maternity and Gynecological Care, The Nurse and the Family, Irene Bobak, Margaret Jensen, Marianne Zalar, Mosby Co., 1989