How to recover from perineal tearing

Most women suffer a perineal tear during vaginal childbirth, which sometimes requires stitches and surgical repair. Smaller tears usually do not require stitching as they heal on their own. Tears can damage the muscles beneath the perineum, which then always require repair. Dissolvable stitches are used and do not need removal.

Ingela Ågren

3 min read

Ingela Ågren

How to recover from perineal tearingPhoto:Preggers

If the tearing causes pain

A tear can be painful, and the perineal area can be swollen in the beginning. The discomfort will ease day by day. For most individuals, the discomfort will have disappeared after a couple of months, but it does take up to a year for the body to recover after childbirth. You can take non-prescription medication such as paracetamol 500mg, two tablets four times per day, preferably with Ibuprofen 400mg, one tablet three times per day. You can still take the tablets if you are breastfeeding. If sitting causes pain, lie down when bottling or breastfeeding.

How to manage hygiene

Tears do not need any particular cleaning. Wash with water when required, but avoid soaps and creams. Change sanitary pad several times every day or more frequently if it feels wet. Wiping over the torn area may cause discomfort, so try to just dab carefully using a towel. It’s a good idea to “air” the tear occasionally by not wearing underwear for a while.

If you experience a burning sensation when urinating, try to pee in the shower and allow water to wash over the perineal area at the same time. Remember to drink enough water to dilute the urine. After delivery, it’s often difficult to hold back gases, whether you have suffered tearing or not. The problems usually disappear after about a week.

Many women are worried about defecating after childbirth. Try not to get constipated after giving birth. Drink plenty of water, eat fibrous foods and try to exercise as much as you can. If you are suffering from sphincter damage, i.e. a third- or fourth-degree tear, it is particularly important not to get constipated. Medication such as paraffin emulsion makes the stools soft and easier to pass.

Sex after childbirth

Penetrative sex should be avoided as long as the tear is healing. A tear can take several weeks, and months even, to heal. The desire to resume sex life after childbirth differs from person to person. It is important that it happens on your terms. If you are breastfeeding, the mucous membranes may be dry and tenuous due to the lower levels of estrogen caused by breastfeeding. Non-prescription estrogen and lubricant can be helpful.

If complications arise

Women sometimes have to seek medical care after childbirth because they experience problems with tearing. The wound may get infected, for example. Symptoms may include increased pain, fever, and/or cloudy discharges. It is important to contact a medical professional if you experience severe pain during bowel movements or if you have fecal incontinence.

Ingela Ågren

Ingela Ågren


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