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Home Wellness Research Delivery Episiotomy Increases Risk of Incontinence

Episiotomy Increases Risk of Incontinence

Sunday, 16 November 2008 13:51
According to new study conducted at Harvard Medical School, women who undergo episiotomy during childbirth are more likely to develop anal incontinence, compared with women who have "natural" childbirth - even if they withstand perineal tearing. The study enrolled 209 women who received a midline episiotomy, 206 women who endured spontaneous perineal tearing and 211 women who experienced neither event. All subjects had singleton deliveries.

At 6-month follow-up, investigators determined that episiotomies tripled the risk of fecal incontinence and doubled the risk of flatus incontinence. This finding was independent of maternal age, complicated labor, or instrument use during delivery (i.e., forceps).


The study's authors concluded that, "midline episiotomy is not effective in protecting the perineum and sphincters during childbirth and may impair anal continence."

Signorello LB, Harlow BL, Chekos AK, Repke JT   Midline episiotomy and anal incontinence: retrospective cohort study   Brit Med J 2000 (Jan 8);   320 (7227):   86-90