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Gynacology and Health

The water skiing douche

Rectal and Vaginal Blowouts While Water Skiing

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

What's the worst thing that can happen to you while water skiing? Many feel it's the embarrassment of repeated falling while others make it on their first attempt. Or that you might suffer a strained muscle or bruise. But every year water skiers face unexpected serious and life-threatening injuries. And few people are aware of the rectal and vaginal damage that occurs in this sport.

The medical journal, Pediatrics, relates the case of a nine-year-old girl in excellent health who went water skiing with friends. She was wearing a single layer one piece cloth bathing suit and failed four times to get up on skis.

Then on the fifth attempt she succeeded and was pulled across the lake at 40 miles an hour. But she never attained a standing position, finally falling backwards with her legs spread apart. As she struck the water she felt sudden pain in the buttocks.

After pulling her into the boat her father noticed she was bleeding heavily and rushed her to Kosair hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. On arrival the child was in shock, requiring immediate blood transfusions, and emergency surgery.

Doctors found a laceration extending the full length of the vaginal wall. An artery spurting blood was tied off and the laceration repaired.

Another woman, a naval officer and accomplished skier, lost her balance while crossing the wake of another boat. Rescuers were surprised to see blood on her bathing suit and when she suddenly became weak they rushed her to the local hospital. Examination showed that she was bleeding from the vagina and also passing bloody urine.

Surgeons repaired a large tear of the vaginal wall. A cystoscopic examination also showed damage to the urinary bladder. Post-operatively she developed a fever and continued to pass bloody urine for several days. Eight days later she was able to leave the hospital.

Reports indicate other skiers have sustained injuries to the uterus and fallopian tubes. In one instance a skier developed a pelvic abscess following a fall. This destroyed both fallopian tubes resulting in infertility.

All these women were victims of what has been called "The water skiing douche". Falling forcefully with the legs apart and inadequate bathing suit protection allows water to enter the vagina with considerable force tearing the vaginal wall and sometimes other organs.

How often these injuries occur is not known. But medical literature cites numerous cases. And suggests that both sexes must guard against the water skiing enema.

Dr. D Patterson, writing in The Practitioner, reports a serious injury to the bowel from water skiing. This patient had a tear that extended all the way through the bowel wall resulting in heavy bleeding.

These injuries occur when the skier either hits the water in a sitting position or after a jump when the buttocks strike the water first.

It's usually novice skiers wearing standard bathing suits who suffer from a vaginal or rectal blow-out. Competitive skiers know the importance of wearing reinforced skiing pants.

Everyone knows that skiing down a mountain can be extremely hazardous. But few people associate water skiing with these potential injuries. It's an assumption that ends in tragedy for too many families each summer.

This summer, as always, will bring tens of thousands of water skiing accidents in North America. It's estimated that half the skiers will hit another boat. Around 12 percent will strike fixed objects such as docks, pilings or the shore. Five percent will strike a floating object. And six percent will be injured by their own boat and propeller.

Others will suffer catastrophic injuries. Years ago I became cocky one summer day while water skiing and tossed away one ski. I immediately fell hitting the side of my head on the water with considerable force.

I was lucky this stupidity just left me with a tingling sensation in my left arm for several days. Others have torn their spinal column ending their lives in a wheelchair. Still others face severe fractures of the knee and the loss of the lower leg.

This summer parents should be alert to these potential accidents. And I hope this column helps to prevent a tragic injury or loss of life.

W. Gifford-Jones M.D Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker's website is:
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