Fecal incontinence following childbirth, with vaginal relaxation
Following childbirth, vaginal relaxation is a widely-recognized (and somewhat common sense) side effect. As such, many mothers experience decreased pleasure during sex due to a decrease in friction, which occurs because of the loosened state of the vagina. While recently, this phenomenon has become more widely recognized and discussed by the media, increasing the public’s awareness of the problem and available treatments [such as Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation (e.g., vaginal tightening surgery)], other lesser recognized problems may also occur with childbirth.
When giving labor, some women are given the option of having an episiotomy, which is essentially a planned incision (surgical cut) on the perineum from the back-side of the vagina. This essentially enlarges the vaginal opening to aid in delivery of the baby and prevents vaginal tears during childbirth. Other women, however, are not given this option and may experience vaginal tearing during childbirth. When the tears are significant, resulting in injury of the anal sphincter and rectum (third & fourth degree tears), repair is required in order for the woman to resume her normal functioning. However, when these tears go unrecognized or are not repaired correctly, women may experience trouble controlling their bowel movements (fecal incontinence). What’s even worse is that many women with this condition do not seek treatment due to embarrassment and shame. Not only do they deal with bowel control issues, but these tears also inherently impair sexual functioning as well.
As message to women out there suffering from this condition:
- You are not alone. A survey in theU.K.suggests that this severe tearing occurs in 7-11% of women (Sultan, 1997).
- MORE importantly, there are treatment options available, and understanding surgeons to help you correct this problem.
To correct this problem, surgical procedures similar in nature to vaginal repair surgeries are available to repair the damaged tissue. These procedures repair the anal sphincter and rectum, essentially returning them to their original state, and allowing the woman to regain quality of life, through confidence in bowel control, improvements in self-esteem, and a return to normal sexual functioning.