Vaginal Symptoms May Be Caused by Sexual Abuse

Vaginal symptoms, such as abnormal vaginal discharge, sores, warts, pain, or abnormal vaginal bleeding, may be symptoms of sexual abuse. Signs of sexual abuse may not be visible without an examination of the genital area.

Vaginal bleeding in a child before the beginning of menstruation is abnormal, as are other vaginal or genital symptoms such as sores, warts, pain, or unusual discharge. Abnormal vaginal bleeding may be caused by physical or sexual abuse that injures the lower belly or vaginal area. Vaginal bleeding that is caused by abuse often is the result of minor physical injuries that will get better on their own or with home treatment.

You may feel uneasy if your health professional brings up the issue of abuse. Health professionals have a professional duty and legal obligation to evaluate the possibility of abuse. It is important to consider this possibility, especially if there were no witnesses to an injury.

If you suspect abuse, seek help. You can call the local child or adult protective agency, police, or clergy or a health professional such as a doctor, nurse, or counselor. You can also contact the National Child Abuse Hotline and Referral Service at 1-800-422-4453. Adults need to protect young children, because they cannot protect themselves.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised June 13, 2013

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