(Laceration, Vaginal; Vaginal Tears; Tears, Vaginal)
Vaginal lacerations are tears in the vagina or in the skin and muscle around its opening. Tears are most common in the space between the opening of the vagina and the rectum (perineum). The tear may be minor or very deep.
Deep tears may happen during vaginal delivery when:
- The baby's head is too large to fit through the vaginal opening
- Labor is very rapid
- Delivery is done using instruments
Minor tears may also happen during sex or from an injury to the crotch.
Birth factors that may raise the risk of vaginal tears are:
- Having a very large baby
- Having a baby for the first time
- Having had tears with a prior pregnancy
- Delivery with instruments
- Having the baby's shoulder get stuck during delivery
Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Putting an object in the vagina
- Thinning of the vagina
Vaginal tears cause pain and bleeding.
The doctor will see tearing that happens to a woman giving birth.
A woman who is not giving birth will be asked about her symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Some tears may heal on their own. Other tears may need to be repaired with stitches.
The risk of vaginal tears from birth injury may be lowered by massaging the perineum with fingers and a lubricating jelly starting at 34 weeks of pregnancy. This will soften the skin and may help it stretch during labor.
- Perineal massage during pregnancy. American Pregnancy website. Available at: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/labor-and-birth/perineal-massage-pregnancy.
- Perineal trauma and repair in labor and delivery. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/perineal-trauma-and-repair-in-labor-and-delivery.
- Beverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
(C) Copyright 2022 EBSCO Information Services
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.