Perineum Tears

A perineum tear (or perineal tear) is a common type of birth injury. Discover everything you need to know. Contact Sydney Pelvic Clinic today for treatment.

There are a number of different types of tears that can happen during childbirth. A perineum tear is one of these.

What are Perineum Tears?

Your perineum is located between your back passage (anus) and your vaginal opening. It is common for this area to tear while giving birth.

There are different types of perineum tears:

  • First-Degree Tears – These are small tears that only impact the skin. They tend to quickly heal without any treatment.
  • Second-Degree Tears – These are tears that impact the muscle of the skin and perineum. Stitches are usually needed.
  • Third and Fourth-Degree Tears – For some mothers (around 3.5 out of 100), the tear can be deeper. These tears, which are also known as obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASI), extend into the muscle that controls the anus. These tears tend to need surgery.

What are the symptoms?

You will typically experience pain while you are urinating, walking, sitting, or having a bowel movement, and this will last for around a week. The pain should slowly decrease.

However, you do need to be mindful of any signs of an infection, which include swollen, red skin around the tear, smelly discharge, and the area getting more and more painful, rather than the pain reducing.

How common are Perineum Tears with childbirth?

Perineum tears are common. In fact, as many as nine in every 10 first time mothers who have a vaginal birth experience some sort of graze or tear. They can also experience an episiotomy, which is a deliberate cut to assist with childbirth. This is a little bit less common for mothers who have had a vaginal birth before.

What are the risk factors associated with perineal tears?

You are more likely to experience a tear if you are having a vaginal birth for the first time. Other risk factors include the use of epidural analgesia, induction of labour, instrumental deliveries, episiotomy, large babies, prolonged labour, and nulliparity.

What’s involved in a diagnosis?

At Sydney Pelvic Clinic, we can help to diagnose a perineum tear. Clients come in for a post-natal assessment six weeks after birth. Here, we will discuss your birth journey and what you are experiencing, how you are healing, and any concerns you have. If you have a perineum tear, we will be able to diagnose it at this stage.

What treatment is available?

As physiotherapists, we can help you to treat any sort of birth tear that you are experiencing. We will teach you perineum massage and recommend a tailored exercise plan. A perineal massage involves massaging the area between your anus and vagina to increase blood flow and help the tissue skin stretch with greater ease.

The massage can actually begin during pregnancy from 36 weeks onwards to prepare the perineum for birth and to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a tear.

Are there any home-based treatments?

Yes, you can encourage a quicker recovery by taking the right course of action at home, i.e. regular massages and exercises