Slide show: Vaginal tears in childbirth
Illustration of a third-degree vaginal tear
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Third-degree tears involve the perineal muscles and the muscle that surrounds the anus (anal sphincter). These tears sometimes require repair in an operating room — rather than the delivery room — and might take months to heal.

Complications such as fecal incontinence and painful intercourse are possible. If these problems occur, talk to your health care provider.

To ease discomfort:

  • Sit on a pillow or padded ring.
  • Pour warm water over your vulva during urination, and rinse yourself with a squeeze bottle afterward. Press a clean pad against the wound when passing a bowel movement.
  • Cool the wound with an ice pack, or place a chilled witch hazel pad between a sanitary napkin and the wound.
  • Take pain relievers or stool softeners as recommended.
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