Vaginal lacerations and tears can frequently occur during rough intercourse or vaginal childbirth. These can result in discomfort and pain during intercourse or urination, and may also cause minor bleeding. The genital region is sensitive and susceptible to infection. It is important to be mindful of the steps to treat vaginal lacerations and tears.
Lacerations to the vaginal mucosa and muscles, as explained by gynecologist Dr. Chetna Jain, are injuries or abrasions. Vaginal incisions, on the other hand, are sharp cuts in or around the vagina, primarily done for medical purposes but can also occur due to injury from sharp objects.
Vaginal tears can be categorized as
• First-degree tears, which are minor tears involving the skin around the vaginal opening.
• Second-degree tears, extending into the underlying muscle tissue.
• Third-degree tears, involving the perineal muscles and possibly extending into the anal sphincter.
• Fourth-degree tears, extending through the anal sphincter and into the tissue lining the rectum.
Causes of Vaginal Lacerations
Several reasons can lead to vaginal lacerations.
The most common cause is childbirth, according to the expert interviewed by Health Shots. The passage of the baby through the vagina causes significant distension, leading to tears. Doctors perform episiotomies to create space for the baby to be delivered.
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2. Intense intercourse
Intense intercourse can exert exceptional pressure, resulting in vaginal tears. Inadequate lubrication, dryness, or improper use of sex toys can also cause vaginal tears.
3. Lacking estrogen
After menopause, low estrogen levels cause a fragile, atrophic vagina, which can lead to tears, according to Dr. Jain.
Treating Vaginal Lacerations and Tears
For lacerations resulting from a medical procedure, doctors will typically repair the tears by suturing the edges under sterile conditions. Most vaginal stitches are dissolvable and generally heal within four to six weeks. You can also follow the recommendations below, after consulting with a medical professional.
1. Apply a warm compress
This can aid in faster recovery. In fact, applying a warm compress to the perineum during labor can help soften the tissues and potentially reduce the risk of vaginal tears.
2. Maintain cleanliness in the genital area
Wash the area with clean warm water and use pH-balanced, unscented soap to speed up the healing process. Avoid harsh soaps and vaginal douching, and refrain from unnecessary touching of the genital area.
3. Use a cold compress
For fresh injuries, a cold compress with clean water or a cold pack can help reduce swelling and discomfort.
4. Opt for loose, breathable clothing made of cotton
Choose breathable fabrics and avoid tight garments like jeans, which can exacerbate vaginal tears and prolong healing.
5. Limit physical activities
Exercise is beneficial, but activities that involve a lot of stretching or increased pressure on the genital area can exacerbate the pain.
6. Be mindful of seating arrangements
Sit on a soft, comfortable cushion and avoid low-seated chairs or stools, as advised by the expert.
7. Natural remedies
Natural oils such as coconut oil and olive oil can be used to soothe and moisturize the vaginal area, promoting healing. Plain yogurt can also be used to balance vaginal pH and restore healthy microbiota to aid in the healing process.
Most vaginal wounds heal within four weeks, depending on the depth. Superficial and clean lacerations heal faster than deep, contaminated, or infected wounds. Some wounds may require cleaning and dressing by doctors or the application of ointments. Proper care is essential for healing and to prevent any complications.