Episiotomy and Fecal Incontinence

During childbirth the doctor may perform an episiotomy to keep delicate, muscle tissues between the vagina and rectum from tearing. This cut enlarges the opening of the birth canal, and it may be done for several reasons. When there is a need to hurry the delivery process along or when the fragile tissue around the vaginal opening is in danger of tearing an episiotomy is standard practice. This procedure is most commonly performed for a woman’s first delivery, and it may not be necessary for later births.

An episiotomy cut, while it may not seem like much to worry about, actually does have some pretty profound side effects. They include risks like infection or excessive bleeding, and the worst risk might be that it can damage the anal sphincter. If this sphincter is damaged, it can result in fecal incontinence, which can manifest itself in an uncontrollable passage of wind or feces. Both of these conditions are very disconcerting.

Kegel exercises are very important, during and post pregnancy, to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong and supple. These exercises are also very helpful if any damage occurs as the result of an episiotomy cut, because the stronger the supporting muscles are the less stress there is on internal organs. Exercising these muscles helps keep the damaged muscles flexible and working as well as they possibly can. If you are pregnant, it is important to discuss the episiotomy procedure with your doctor so that you understand when and how it will be performed. There may also be some alternative methods in lieu of the episiotomy, so make sure to discuss them with your doctor well before you are in labor. While the episiotomy cut poses a risk of muscle damage, it can also actually keep muscle damage from occurring by keeping the muscle from ripping. So discuss options with your doctor well before you need to make the decision, and you will be able to proceed confidently and as comfortably as possible with the birthing process. If problems do arise, make sure to discuss the problems with your physician, because they will be able to help with the any problem with fecal inconitnence.

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