Minor vaginal cuts and tears are common, frequently happening when a person shaves near the vagina or engages in sexual activity or during childbirth. They may be more common in women with specific hormonal, dermatological, and immunological problems.
Vaginal wounds may be minor or major (deep) and serious. Most vaginal tears heal in about one or two weeks, whereas deeper tears can take longer, especially tears that require stitches (sutures), which typically dissolve within four to six weeks. Vaginal tears should be evaluated by a doctor and be treated appropriately.
Minor vaginal wounds are relatively painless, but they can cause slight discomfort for a day or two before healing, particularly when urinating or having a bowel movement, and bathing or showering. While minor wounds or tears may bleed profusely for a short time, more severe vaginal tears, especially deep lacerations, do not stop bleeding or do not heal with basic self-care, requiring medical intervention.
Vaginal cuts or rips can occur because of sexual assault or rape. People who have been sexually violated should consult a doctor or seek emergency care as soon as possible. Any unexplained or worrying vaginal bleeding, wounds, or tears in children or newborns should also be discussed with a doctor immediately.
What causes vaginal tears?
The most common causes of vaginal tears and wounds include the following:
Vaginal tears can occur because of sexual activity
Vaginal tears are frequently caused by sexual activity when a person's penis, finger or other item inserted into the vagina causes injury to sensitive tissues.
Vaginal tears during sexual activity can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- harsh or vigorous thrusting of an object into the vaginal canal
- vaginal dryness or vulvovaginal atrophy (vaginal tissues become drier, thinner, and less elastic during sexual activity)
- certain skin disorders (such as eczema, lichen planus, or psoriasis)
- vaginal scarring or tissue damage (such as from surgery, pelvic radiation therapy)
- congenital deformities and some drugs (such as corticosteroids)
Shaving or waxing of pubic hair can cause vaginal tears
Another typical cause of vaginal cuts or tears is removing pubic hair with a razor. Waxing can sometimes result in visible wounds or tears on the skin. Hair removal, in addition to larger cuts or rips, can result in microscopic wounds. These little incisions are nonetheless large enough to enable bacteria into the body, raising the risk of skin infection.
Vaginal tears can occur during childbirth
Giving birth can result in severe wounds and rips to the vagina and perineum (perineal tears). These cuts or tears can make it difficult for a woman to walk or sit for a few days. Severe wounds or tears can be excruciatingly painful and bleed profusely. For a few weeks, the perineum (space between a person's rectum and vulva) is usually swollen and painful.
Additionally, the doctor may perform an episiotomy during childbirth to widen the vaginal opening and aid in difficult deliveries, and prevent the rupture of tissues. Episiotomies are more common with first-time vaginal births. Postpartum, the doctor or midwife usually closes the perineal tear with stitches.
During your pregnancy, choose a midwife or doctor who’s experienced with perineal massage to reduce the need for stitches during vaginal births, especially if there is a risk of needing an episiotomy.
What should you do when you have a vaginal tear?
Vaginal tears that cause problematic symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor and treated appropriately. Most tears to the vagina or perineum that don’t cause significant issues can be managed in the following ways at home:
- Cuts and tears weaken the skin's barrier, making it easier for bacteria to enter the body and cause infection, so avoid skin infections by keeping the area around the vagina clean and dry.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water for 15 to 30 seconds before touching the wound.
- Wash the affected area daily with warm water and a mild, unscented soap or cleanser.
- Make sure the affected area is completely dry before getting dressed.
- Avoid soaking the affected area.
- Avoid sexual practices that involve vaginal contact while the tear is healing.
- Wear loose-fitting underwear made of natural materials, such as cotton or bamboo.
When should you see a doctor?
Tears to the vagina or perineum that do not heal should be evaluated by a doctor, since they may require stitches or other medical attention.
Minor vaginal wounds or rips usually do not require treatment and heal fast. However, more severe tears might result in further complications, such as significant blood loss and infections. Additionally, anal sphincter tears are more likely to result in incontinence of gas or feces.
Signs and symptoms of vaginal tears that require medical attention are:
- Bleed heavily or do not stop bleeding after 10 minutes of firm, direct pressure
- Large, deep lacerations
- Have rough edges
- Do not heal within a few days
- Get worse with time
- Cause anxiety or distress (get them examined by a doctor)
- Fever or chills
- A general feeling of being unwell
- Numbness or tingling
- Lightheadedness or losing consciousness
- A discolored or foul-smelling discharge
- Experiencing incontinence
Latest Women's Health News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Fairview Health Services. Vaginal Tear (Non-Obstetric). https://www.fairview.org/patient-education/116680EN
Jansson MH, Franzén K, Hiyoshi A, Tegerstedt G, Dahlgren H, Nilsson K. Risk Factors for Perineal and Vaginal Tears in Primiparous Women - The Prospective POPRACT-Cohort Study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2020 Dec 2;20(1):749. https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-020-03447-0
Top How Long Does It Take a Vaginal Tear to Heal Related Articles
Childbirth Delivery Methods and TypesThere are various childbirth delivery methods and types such as the Lamaze method, the Bradley method, water birth, and assisted births. Options for where a woman can deliver her baby include home birth, a birthing center, and a hospital. The method and type of labor and delivery options should be discussed with a woman's doctor.
EpisiotomyEpisiotomy is a procedure in which an incision is made between the vagina and anus, in the aid in the delivery of a baby. Complications of episiotomy include bleeding, swelling, local pain, infection, defects in the would closure, and possibly short-term sexual dysfunction.
25 Hormone Imbalance Symptoms and SignsHormone imbalance including abnormal levels of estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, progesterone, and other hormones may lead to symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, and mood swings. Hormonal imbalance may be due to natural states, like menopause, or other conditions. See your doctor for suspected imbalances in hormonal systems.
How Common Are Complications During Childbirth?Labor or childbirth is a physiologic process during which the fetus, membranes, umbilical cord and placenta are expelled from the uterus. The most common complications during childbirth include preeclampsia, eclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm labor, infections and uterine atony.
What Does It Mean If I’m Having a Lot of Vaginal Discharge?It's normal for women to have some amount of vaginal discharge. Learn more about what it can mean if you have more vaginal discharge than usual or if your discharge has an unusual appearance.
Pain Relief Options for ChildbirthWomen 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 professional well before your "birth day" so that when you are in labor you understand the choices.
Urinary Incontinence in WomenMillions of women suffer from urinary incontinence (UI). UI occurs twice as often in women as in men. There are many types of urinary incontinence: stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overactive bladder, functional incontinence, overflow incontinence, transient incontinence, and mixed incontinence.
Incontinence in WomenUrinary incontinence in women is a common problem. Overactive bladder (OAB), stress incontinence, and urge incontinence can be treated. Learn more about the types of urinary incontinence, their symptoms, and treatment options.
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.
Vaginal Dryness and Vaginal AtrophyVaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy occurs in women during perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. With vaginal atrophy, the lining of the vaginal wall becomes thinner, drier, less elastic, and light pink to bluish in color. Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include vaginal dryness, itching, irritation, and/or pain during intercourse. Treatment options for vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy include hormone treatment and over-the-counter vaginal lubricating and moisturizing products.
Vaginal Health Quiz: Test Your Medical IQTake this Vaginal Health Quiz to learn about about common problems that women experience, and when to see a doctor about problems down there.
Vaginal Pain (Vulvodynia)Vulvodynia or vaginal pain, genital pain is a condition in which women have chronic vulvar pain with no known cause. There are two types of vulvodynia, generalized vulvodynia and vulvar vestibulitis. Researchers are trying to find the causes of vulvodynia, for example, nerve irritation, genetic factors, hypersensitivity to yeast infections, muscle spasms, and hormonal changes.The most common symptoms of vaginal pain (vulvodynia) is burning, rawness, itching, stinging, aching, soreness, and throbbing. There are a variety of treatments that can ease the symptoms of vulvodynia (vaginal pain).
What Is the Most Common Complication of Childbirth?The most common complication of childbirth is labor that does not progress. Learn about other childbirth complications and what can be done about them.
Where Is the Groin Area in Men and Women?The groin area is located at the same place in men and women—at the junction where the upper body or abdomen meets the thigh. It is an area of the hip and is comprised of five muscles that work together to move your leg.
Women's Health: Tips for Dealing With DrynessLots of parts of your body can become dry, especially as women get older. Find out the different causes and what you can do about them.