Slide show: Vaginal tears in childbirth
Illustration of a fourth-degree vaginal tear
Previous Next 5 of 6 4th-degree vaginal tear

Fourth-degree vaginal tears are the most severe. They extend through the anal sphincter and into the mucous membrane that lines the rectum (rectal mucosa). Fourth-degree tears usually require repair with anesthesia in an operating room — rather than the delivery room — and sometimes require more specialized repair. Healing also might take longer than a few weeks.

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

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

See more Multimedia Jan. 20, 2022