The perineum is the area located in between and separating your anus and vagina. During labor or childbirth, the strain of the baby coming out of the birth canal and the inability of the vagina to stretch around it can cause the tearing or laceration of the perineum..
This relatively common and painful condition is called vaginal or perineal tears or lacerations. Almost 50% of all women suffer from at least the first or second degrees of tearing during childbirth.
Different severities of the tear require different lengths of time to heal, which can take a few weeks to several months. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve the pain and hasten the healing process. Know more about these in the next sections.
Degrees of Vaginal or Perineal TearsThere are four degrees of vaginal or perineal tears depending on the severity and extent of the tear.
- First-degree perineal tear
First-degree tears happen when only the perineal skin is torn and leads to a mild burning sensation or stinging feeling when urinating.
- Second-degree perineal tear
Second-degree tears involve some or all of the perineal muscles. These muscles help the pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, rectum, and uterus. These usually need stitches and start to heal within several weeks.
- Third-degree perineal tear
Third-degree tears not only involve the tearing of the perineal muscles, but also the surrounding muscles of the anal sphincter or anus. This type of tear require an operation to repair and may take months in order to heal.
It can lead to complications like painful intercourse and faecal incontinence.
- Fourth-degree perineal tear
Fourth-degree tears involve tearing of the anal sphincter, the perineal skin and muscles, and the tissues that line the rectum. This also requires operation and healing might take several months.
Painful intercourse and faecal incontinence are also possible complications.
Depending on your rate of recovery and the degree of your perineal tear during your postpartum checkup, your OB-GYN or health care provider may refer you to other specialists like a colorectal surgeon or a urogynecologist.