If you are suffering from wind and faecal incontinence or urgency following the birth of your child, it is possible that you have either an undiagnosed or poorly-repaired third degree tear. You may even have suffered a fourth degree tear.
Perineal birth tears
A small but significant minority of women suffer severe injuries during the process of vaginal child birth. If it is your first vaginal birth, you are at an even greater risk of injury.
Third and fourth degree tears, otherwise known as obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASI), cause damage from the vagina, across the perineum and on to the anal muscles. The most severe tears cause damage to both the internal and external muscles, potentially causing highly-distressing symptoms for the woman affected.
The effects of anal sphincter injuries
The anal sphincter muscles control the opening and closing of the bowel and are thus responsible for both facilitating and preventing the passing of wind and faeces (poo). If these muscles are damaged and unable to function properly, the injured woman may find, at best, that she has very little time to get to the toilet or, at worst, that she has lost control of her bowels completely and cannot prevent the passing of wind and faeces. She has therefore become incontinent.
Such a scenario is not inevitable simply because a woman has suffered a perineal tear during childbirth. There are clear guidelines around the need for a thorough post-partum examination and precise classification of the degree of damages which might be incurred. If a severe 3rd or 4th degree tear is diagnosed accurately, the woman should undergo prompt surgery at the hands of a skilled surgeon. There is then a very good chance that she will make a complete recovery.
If diagnosis or repair is delayed, the following symptoms may develop into the long-term and future repair is likely to be less successful:
- Faecal urgency or incontinence
- Inability to control the passing of wind
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Repeated infection of the perineum
4th degree tears
If you are very unfortunate, you may have suffered a fourth degree tear or a buttonhole tear. Both these scenarios will mean that the internal lining of the anus has been damaged and wind and faeces may be passing from your bowel through to your vagina.
If you are experiencing leakage from the vagina, this may be why.
As can be seen, the long-term symptoms of an undiagnosed severe perineal tear can be both unpleasant and debilitating. A careful examination of a woman after she has given birth vaginally is absolutely vital.
If you are suffering from long-term symptoms due to a failure to diagnose and treat your tear, you may wish to speak with a solicitor.
If your symptoms are impacting on your ability to work and function normally, it may be appropriate to make a claim for compensation.
Call us now to talk to a specialist medical negligence solicitor.
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If you, or your family member, has suffered a birth injury tear, please call us now for free, no obligation advice on 0800 234 3300 (or from a mobile click to call 01275 334030) or complete our Free Online Enquiry.