Approximately 80-90% of women experience a vaginal tear during childbirth. The majority are small tears that heal up without any problems. Vaginal tears can occasionally be more severe, involving the muscles around the back passage, the labia or the clitoris. These complex tears can leave women with both physical and psychological scars and can impact on future pregnancies.
During my training in Sheffield (one of the busiest labour wards in the UK) I gained vast experience in this area. I regularly taught midwives and junior doctors how to repair vaginal tears and was an invited lecturer on two perineal trauma courses.
As a consultant urogynaecologist, I now see women experiencing problems several weeks or months after delivery. The most common problems are:
Painful scar formation
Pain during sex
Poor cosmetic appearance of the vaginal opening or labia
The vast majority of problems settle down and resolve by around 3 months after delivery. If you are still experiencing problems at this stage you should see a specialist as you may require further treatment.
Injection of scar tissue with medications to improve pain and reduce scar formation
Injection of Botulinum toxin (Botox®) to pelvic floor muscles or vulva to improve pain
Fenton’s procedure (day case operation to remove scar tissue and refashion perineum)