A woman's belly looked like a balloon. You won't believe why

Abdominal bloating is bothersome and painful. Usually, it’s a result of digestive problems. In this account, surprisingly, it was something else.

 Navel of a woman (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Navel of a woman
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Abdominal bloating is bothersome and painful. Usually, it’s a result of digestive problems. In this account, surprisingly, it’s oral sex that caused the belly of a woman, age 24, to expand and look like a balloon.

During all the years we’ve been working here we’ve heard many strange stories that stemmed from having sex, but this is a first. 

A woman, age 24, showed up in the emergency room at Stanford (California) Medical Center after experiencing severe abdominal and chest pain for six hours. Her pain was quite sharp and had spread throughout her abdomen, yet she had no other symptoms.

Doctors had already seen this woman twice. 

She had been admitted a year before, and had returned six months later with the same problem. Both times, doctors didn’t find a specific cause for her pain. In X-rays, the results were the same: air was detected in the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). 

This condition can be caused by a number of factors, from perforated ulcers to intestinal (bowel) cancer. Unfortunately, this air bubble may cause an embolism that can be deadly. This is why doctors had to find out what caused her repeated ER visits.

As mentioned, despite tests in the previous two cases, no cause was found for her condition and the air was gradually absorbed by her abdominal tissue, a process that took several days, a research team wrote in the Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons.

This time, the woman's sexual history was taken, and the cause of the bloating was discovered. Her partner was inflating her like she was a balloon. The patient said that her partner performed oral sex on her, and while doing so he breathed hard into her vagina. The staff remarked that the patient recalled that the pain started four hours after each incident.

The woman was observed in the hospital, and was discharged after no damage was found. Although she wasn’t injured, other cases known to doctors have caused physical damage, and in one case a woman died.

Oral stimulation of the female genitals (cunnilingus) is a common sexual practice worldwide. During such activity, when the partner breathes strongly into the vagina, lots of air enters it, the team reported.

This air can enter the uterus, and after dilating the fallopian tubes it enters the abdomen, thus creating a pneumoperitoneum - extra, diffuse air outside the intestines. 

A patient may be experiencing intense pain with all this extra air, yet doesn’t understand oral sex caused the problem, and in many cases the medical staff doesn’t receive this crucial information from patients, so the cause of the pain is difficult to diagnose.