A 3rd degree tear can heal successfully so that the patient does not have any ongoing symptoms. Some, however, will experience long-term problems because of a 3rd degree tear.
How to help a 3rd degree tear heal
A 3rd degree tear is an injury to the perineum and anal sphincter. It occurs during the vaginal delivery of a baby.
A 3rd degree tear is one of the more serious types of perineal tear and must be repaired in the aftermath of the birth by an experienced surgeon.
After the repair, a patient should be told how best to promote healing. This will include things such as:
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Taking antibiotics to prevent an infection
- Taking laxatives to loosen stools, ensuring you do not strain and damage the stitches during defecation
- Keeping the wound clean
- Getting air to the wound
- Using pressure-relieving devices when sitting down
- Not standing or sitting for too long
Will my 3rd degree tear heal?
Most 3rd degree tears will heal completely, although this may of course take some time. The measures mentioned above should help speed up the healing process, but it may still take a matter of weeks or months for a full recovery to be made.
Unfortunately, however, some 3rd degree tears will never heal entirely. Some women will find that the appearance of the vagina changes permanently. Others will find that there is a loss of function, especially with regards to anal sphincter control. This may result in symptoms such as:
- Faecal urgency
- Incontinence of flatus (wind)
- Faecal leakage
- Faecal soiling
- Incontinence of faeces
Why has my 3rd degree tear not healed?
There may not be any specific reason why your 3rd degree tear has not healed. It may be that your pudendal nerves have been damaged (something which is very difficult to rectify) or that your anal sphincter complex has not recovered particularly well. Sadly some women will simply heal better than others.
On the other hand, your 3rd degree tear might not have healed because of substandard medical care. For example, a 3rd degree tear has a much better chance of healing if a repair is conducted immediately after the birth. If there is a delay of days, weeks or months, the repair will not be as effective.
Similarly, the 3rd degree tear might become infected – something which requires antibiotics. If medical practitioners fail to provide the correct medication, the wound may break down, hindering the healing process.
Have you been harmed because of medical negligence?
If your 3rd degree tear has not healed because of medical error, please contact us to discuss the possibility of making a medical negligence claim.