Women Increasingly Seek Treatment for Severe Perineal Tears

By empowering surgeons to do more, your donation goes further 

Like you, we believe that no woman should suffer a life of misery for trying to bring a child into the world. Since our inception, Fistula Foundation has been laser-focused on finding and treating women with obstetric fistula. Our partners in the field are our eyes, ears, and hands. We listen to and trust in them, adapt to trends and updates on the ground, and evolve our approach to outreach and care when opportunities for greater impact arise. 

“In my work, I see women who have involuntary leakage of stool due to third- and fourth-degree perineal tears…These injuries subject the women to both physical and psychological distress. The women are very traumatized and usually need repair to restore stool continence. We have all along considered these tears as part of recto-vaginal fistulas because they cause stool and flatus incontinence with untold suffering to the victims.” – Dr. Stephen Mutiso, fistula surgeon for Jamaa Mission Hospital in Nairobi

In recent years, as our partners’ outreach workers have found women with fistula, they’ve increasingly encountered women with a similarly debilitating childbirth injury: third- and fourth-degree perineal tears that leave women incontinent of feces. 

For a quick anatomy recap: The perineum is the area between the vagina and the rectum. It’s common for this area to tear during childbirth, though the severity of the tear varies. Most first-time mothers giving birth vaginally will have first- or second-degree tears, which are small and often heal quickly on their own, or with minor stitches.  

Third- and fourth-degree tears, however, are much more debilitating. These tears are deeper and require surgery or a longer healing time. In parts of Africa and Asia, where many women lack obstetric care during deliveries, these injuries often go untreated. Third- and fourth-degree tears may include a complete tear of the anal sphincter muscle, leaving a woman incontinent in feces. The effects of the injury mirror those of the most severe form of obstetric fistula, recto-vaginal fistula. 

Reported cases of these painful tears are up, and today account for 20% of all surgical cases across partner sites.  

But there is good news. Like fistula, women can be cured with surgery. That means your gift can now go further, empowering surgeons to change more lives, and end unnecessary suffering. 

 

Published: August 23, 2021

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