When it comes to reproductive health, there are certain topics that some people find too embarrassing to talk about. One of them is vaginal gas — or as it’s more commonly known, queefing. Why does it happen? How common is it? What can you do to prevent it? And, is it ever a reason to seek medical treatment?
What is vaginal gas?
Vaginal gas occurs when pockets of air get trapped in the vaginal canal. When the air is involuntarily released, the vagina may make squeaking or flatulence sound — although it does not emit any odor. In most instances, it isn’t considered to be a health risk. Most women have experienced it at some point during their lives — and if it’s audible enough, it can be an embarrassing experience.
What causes vaginal gas?
There are several things that could cause air to become trapped in the vaginal canal. The most common ones include the following:
Sexual activity. When a woman is aroused, her vaginal canal expands — in turn allowing more air than usual to come in. If you’re having sex with a man, oral sex, or using an object for penetration, you’ll experience gas being pushed into the vagina.
Menstrual products. Inserting tampons or a menstrual cup could also cause air to become trapped into the vagina. You can reduce the likelihood of this occurring with a menstrual cup by following instructions for proper insertion.
Tense vaginal muscles. Certain activities — such as coughing, going to the gynecologist, doing yoga, or feeling anxious or worried can cause the muscles in the vaginal canal to tense up. This causes air bubbles to become trapped in the vagina.
Vaginal examinations. Feeling anxious about going to the gynecologist isn’t the only thing about the experience that may cause vaginal gas. Physical insertion of any instrument — including gloved fingers or a speculum — may result in air pockets traveling up your vagina.
Childbirth. Giving birth is one of the most common activities that will cause vaginal muscles to substantially expand. In addition, pregnancy may cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken, increasing the likelihood of vaginal gas.
Symptoms of Vaginal Gas
Having vaginal gas feels exactly how it sounds like it would — you can actually notice the sensation of gas trapped inside the vagina. If the gas isn’t caused by a medical condition, you’ll feel no pain. However, it can feel uncomfortable — especially if there’s a lot of gas trapped.
When To See a Doctor
Since vaginal gas has so many harmless causes, it shouldn’t be a reason for concern if it occurs occasionally — especially after having sex or inserting a menstrual cup. However, if it occurs with regularity, it may be a sign of a medical condition. The most common health issues that may cause vaginal gas are pelvic floor dysfunction and vaginal fistulas.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
The pelvic muscles support the organs in your pelvis — such as the cervix, uterus, bladder, and rectum. Having weak pelvic muscles can cause incontinence and an inability to fully control bowel movements. The most common causes for them to become weak are pregnancy, childbirth, traumatic injury to the pelvic region, surgery, chronic constipation, and obesity. Left untreated, pelvic floor dysfunction may lead to an infection or damage to the colon.
In addition to vaginal gas, if you have pelvic floor dysfunction, you’ll also experience sudden urges to urinate, painful urination, lower back pain, constipation, muscle spasms in the vagina, and discomfort during sexual intercourse.
A vaginal fistula is an abnormal opening between the vagina and the bladder, either of the intestines, or the rectum. They are typically caused by a traumatic injury, bowel disease, colon or cervical cancer, abdominal surgery, or a C-section. While they sometimes heal on their own, they may also cause infection if left untreated.
In addition to vaginal gas, other symptoms of vaginal fistulas include stool that leaks through the vagina, irritation around the vagina or rectum, recurring urinary tract infections, and pus-filled abscesses. They have a higher risk of complications in individuals with Crohn’s disease.
If You’re Experiencing Vaginal Gas, OB-GYN Women’s Center Can Help
At OB-GYN Women’s Center, we aim to make all of our patients feel comfortable. And getting answers to all your questions is the first step in getting the treatment you need.
Contact us to schedule an appointment.