- Episiotomy Center
- Stages of Pregnancy Slideshow Pictures
- Slideshow of Early Pregnancy Symptoms
- Early Pregnancy Symptoms Quiz
- What is an episiotomy?
- How common is episiotomy?
- How is an episiotomy done?
- What are the advantages of an episiotomy?
- How is an episiotomy repaired?
- What are the possible complications of an episiotomy, and should an episiotomy be part of a routine delivery?
- What is the healing time for an episiotomy?
What is an episiotomy?
An episiotomy is an incision made between the vagina and the rectum in order to increase the size of the opening of the vagina and facilitate the delivery of a baby.
How common is episiotomy?
An episiotomy is performed in a large percentage of vaginal deliveries in the United States, but the prevalence of episiotomy has been decreasing in recent years. Some countries have significantly lower episiotomy rates than the U.S. In general, episiotomy is less common in Europe than in the U.S.
How is an episiotomy done?
The usual cut (incision) for an episiotomy goes straight down and typically does not involve the muscles around the rectum or the rectum itself. Anesthesia in the form of nerve blocks or local injections of anesthetic are given if the patient has not received regional anesthesia (such an epidural) for the delivery.
What are the advantages of an episiotomy?
An episiotomy can decrease the amount of pushing the mother must do during delivery. It can also decrease trauma to the vaginal tissues and expedite delivery of the baby when delivery must be accomplished expiditiously. Doctors who favor episiotomies argue that a surgical incision is easier to repair than a spontaneous irregular or extensive tear, and is likely to lead to a more favorable outcome with fewer complications.
Quick GuideEarly Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy
How is an episiotomy repaired?
The repair is straightforward and is fairly simple to perform. The incision is repaired by suturing (sewing) the wound together.
What are the possible complications of an episiotomy, and should an episiotomy be part of a routine delivery?
Episiotomy can be associated with extensions or tears into the muscle of the rectum or even the rectum itself. Other complications can include:
- defects in wound closure,
- localized pain, and
- sexual dysfunction (usually transient).
Studies have shown conflicting results regarding the question of whether performing an episiotomy results in greater postpartum pain than not performing the procedure.
However, it is important to note that if the baby needs to be delivered more urgently, then waiting for the mother to push it out without the assistance of an episiotomy may in certain cases cause harm to the fetus. Also, there are some tears that occur when no incision is made that are very difficult to repair and cause greater blood loss than might otherwise occur.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports the position of restricted, instead of routine, use of episiotomy. Instead, episiotomy should be considered in certain situations when there is a high risk of severe lacerations or the need to facilitate rapid delivery of a fetus.
What is the healing time for an episiotomy?
The typical healing time for an episiotomy is around 4 to 6 weeks depending on the size of the incision and the type of suture material used to close the wound.
Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology
"Approach to episiotomy"
Daily Health News
Pregnancy and Parenting Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Pregnancy & Newborns Newsletter
"Approach to episiotomy"
Top Episiotomy Related Articles
Endometriosis implants are most commonly found on the ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus or intestines, and on the surface lining of the pelvic cavity. They also can be found in the vagina, cervix, and bladder. Endometriosis may not produce any symptoms, but when it does the most common symptom is pelvic pain that worsens just prior to menstruation and improves at the end of the menstrual period. Other symptoms of endometriosis include pain during sex, pain with pelvic examinations, cramping or pain during bowel movements or urination, and infertility.
Treatment of endometriosis can be with medication or surgery.
Fetal Movement: Feeling Baby Kick Week-by-WeekPregnancy can be one of the most joyous time in a couples life. Learn what your baby's first movements may feel like week by week, how often you may feel them, what time of day the baby is most active, and what to do if you feel your baby is not moving as much as you feel it should be moving.
fibrinolysin w/dnase-topical ointment
Labor and DeliveryLabor signs can be very distinct for pregnant women. It is not possible to know what causes labor to start or when exactly it will start, but changes that indicate the beginning of labor include:
- passing of the mucus plug,
- breaking the bag of water, and
- effacement and dilation of the cervix.
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include
breast swelling and tenderness,
- nausea and sometimes vomiting,
- fatigue, and
Second trimester symptoms include
- weight gain,
- itching, and
- possible stretch marks.
Third trimester symptoms are
- additional weight gain,
- swelling of the ankles,
- fingers, and face,
- breast tenderness, and
- trouble sleeping.
Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy can bring challenges like
- weight gain,
- stretch marks,
- varicose veins,
- problems sleeping, and
- wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant.
Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Planning (Preparing for Pregnancy)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes:
- Taking prenatal vitamins
- Eating healthy for you and your baby
- Disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections
- Avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby
- How much weight gain is healthy
- Exercise safety and pregnancy
- Travel during pregnancy
Pregnancy: Pain Relief Options for BirthWomen experience and tolerate pain differently. For some pregnant women, focused breathing is all they need to get through labor and childbirth; but for others, numbing of the pain is desired. There are a number of different medications a woman can take during labor and childbirth. It is important for you to learn what pain relief options are available. Please discuss the options with your health care provider well before your "birth day" so that when you are in labor you understand the choices.
Surgery QuestionsSurgery is the branch of medicine that employs operations in the treatment of disease or injury. Prior to surgery you might consider asking your surgeon questions about the operation (procedure).
Vagina PictureThe vagina is an elastic, muscular canal with a soft, flexible lining that provides lubrication and sensation. See a picture of the Vagina and learn more about the health topic.