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Reproductive & Child Health News

Episiotomy Increases Risk of Anal Incontinence

ROCKVILLE, M--Women who undergo episiotomy during childbirth have higher rates of anal incontinence during the first six months after giving birth, compared to women who did not have episiotomies and those who experienced perineal tearing, report researchers in this week's British Medical Journal. Lisa Signorello, M.D., and colleagues from Harvard Medical School investigated 209 women who underwent a midline episiotomy while delivering a full-term baby vaginally, 206 who experienced spontaneous perineal tearing, and 211 who experienced neither. They found that compared with women who tore naturally, episiotomy tripled the risk of fecal incontinence and doubled the risk of flatus incontinence in the six months after giving birth. Episiotomy is a procedure in which an incision is made in the perineal area beginning at the entrance to the vagina and extending towards the anus. It 's usually performed at the end of the second stage of labor to avoid tearing in these tissues and to allow for easier passage of the baby.

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