Perineal Tear During Childbirth
While everyone makes a big deal about whether or not to have an epidural during childbirth, no one really thinks about what can happen if there is any vaginal tearing. Perineal tears during childbirth are very common. Although it is possible to avoid them by preparing early on during pregnancy, sometimes vaginal tears happen anyway.
There are three degrees of vaginal tearing that can occur during childbirth. First-degree tears are very superficial and only involve a small separation of skin at the base of the vagina. First-degree lacerations usually heal on their own. Second-degree tears are deeper and larger than first-degree tears. Second-degree lacerations involve tearing of the skin, tissue, and pelvic muscles and require stitches in the perineal area. Third and fourth degree tears are very serious and usually extend to the anus.
Recovery from perineum surgery can be a challenge. There will be feelings of discomfort and slight pain. Over time, as the perineum area heals, the level of discomfort will greatly diminish. However, many women who have had any kind of vaginal tearing from childbirth often have issues with stress incontinence, decreased sexual pleasure, and uncomfortable bowel movements.
The use of ice packs can be a great source of relief for perineal area trauma. Apply ice to the vaginal area to reduce the pain and discomfort. Only use ice during the first 48 hours after perineum surgery. Limit physical activity during the first two weeks of recovery. Keep all walking and standing activities to a minimum. Avoid performing any jerky and awkward movements as well. Maintain a diet that is high in fiber during the first few weeks after surgery. This will help to keep bowel movements soft and easy to pass. This will lessen the amount of stress to the perineal area while it is healing.
Some women may still have trouble with incontinence and experience pain during intercourse long after they have had their surgery. If these issues persist, it is a good idea to see a perineal repair specialist at Dr. David Ghozland, MD.