Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Vaginal foreign body insertion in a patient with emotionally unstable personality disorder
  1. Louise Dunphy1 and
  2. Gemma Sheridan2
  1. 1Department of Surgery, Royal Berkshire Hospital, Berkshire, UK
  2. 2Department of Gynaecology, Liverpool Women's Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Louise Dunphy; Louise.Dunphy{at}


Insertion of foreign objects into one or more bodily orifice, otherwise known as polyembolokoilamania, occurs as a result of a variety of psychosocial and psychiatric states. Such behaviour exposes the affected individual to the complications of object insertion, surgical removal and its adverse sequelae such as a colovesical fistula. Foreign body insertion into the vagina mainly involves children and can be associated with premenarchal vaginal discharge or sexual abuse. The gynaecological literature describes cases involving adults and can be associated with drug smuggling or sexual gratification. Commonly retrieved foreign bodies from the vagina includes tampons, hair pins, buttons, seeds, toy parts, objects used in foreplay, forgotten pessaries, pen caps, toilet tissue and illicit drugs for trafficking. There is a relative dearth of cases reported in the psychiatric literature. Management of deliberate foreign body insertion [DFBI) in borderline personality disorder patients is challenging, often repetitive and the potential for further self-harm and complex emotional issues may elicit strong countertransference from medical staff. Although there are well-established guidelines for acute medical and surgical management of DFBI, none provide an overview of the management of repeat presentations or consider the role of secondary gain or provide reinforcement strategies for managing this complex patient cohort. The authors present the case of a 23-year-old woman with an emotionally unstable personality disorder presenting to the emergency department after inserting objects in her vagina. This paper will provide an overview of the presentation, investigations and management of individuals presenting after inserting foreign objects into the vagina. In the majority of cases, a carefully obtained history and physical examination will render the diagnosis, although imaging modalities may be required to locate the misplaced objects. Individuals may present with bleeding, blood stained or foul-smelling vaginal discharge. Prompt management can prevent morbidity and mortality resulting from complications.

  • obstetrics and gynaecology
  • psychiatry

Statistics from


  • Contributors LD: encountered the patient in the emergency department which prompted further reading on the aetiology and management of polyembolokoilamania. LD performed the literature review and wrote the case report. GS: performed Consultant review and final editing of the case report.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.