Q. This is more of a post-pregnancy issue. My daughter is 16 months old now and ever since her birth my vagina has never been the same. I had a tear so the doctor stitched me up, but that got infected. Ever since, I have been very tight, sex hurts and I have a very strong odor. I have spoken to my doctor about this but all he said was to have more sex and stretch it out. I also was given an antibiotic for the smell (which they thought was an infection), but here I am a year later and nothing has changed. Any advice?
A. I've heard of women getting second surgeries to fix vaginal tears that were never sewn properly in the first place. Your doctor may be exhausting all other options of treatment before contemplating another surgery. After all, that would be admitting fault. Your best bet would be to get a second opinion. See if you can find an obstetrician who specializes in repair of vaginal tears.
Q. I am 36 weeks pregnant now, and last week my boyfriend and I had sex. I ended up tearing on the inside and had to be rushed to the ER for stitches. It has been almost a week now since I had the stitches put in, and I have bruising and a lot of swelling, especially on the side that tore. Do you have any idea how long it will take for the stitches to dissolve and for me to heal? I'm also very worried about going into labor early and my stitches tearing open.
A. Depending on the extent of the wound, most dissolvable stitches are designed to disappear within two to four weeks. You should be fairly well healed by the time your due date comes around.
If you should happen to go into labor before you are completely healed, don't worry– vaginal pain during delivery generally isn't an issue for most women. The vaginal area during childbirth usually becomes naturally numb from the continual pressure of the baby. But, if vaginal pain should become a problem for you, most doctors offer pain medications during labor and delivery that may suit your needs.
As far as your concerns about the former wound tearing open, since you already have two weeks under your belt I think you are probably close to being healed already. Your doctor should monitor the stress on your former wound during delivery. If it looks like it may be a real problem, you might require a C-section.
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Q. This is my second pregnancy. When I had my daughter, I suffered a second degree tear. How likely is this to happen again?
A. Of course many factors come into play, but I think your chances of a second tear are significantly less. Once your vaginal muscles and tissues have been stretched (from childbirth), they “give” a lot easier the next time around. However, if your second child is much larger than your first or the baby comes out breech or with shoulder dystocia, then your chances for tearing again do increase.
You might discuss your concerns with your doctor to see if there are any preventative measures you can take to avoid tearing. For instance, if you gained a lot of weight with the first (over 45lbs.), then you might try to gain less weight with this pregnancy. Less weight gain usually makes for a smaller baby and easier delivery.
Q. When I had my son, I tore pretty oddly. On one side of my vagina the lip is split in half. The doctor said he had sewn it up correctly, but it is extremely noticeable that he made a mistake. I am now pregnant again and would like him to deliver my next child. I'm not sure how uncomfortable it would be asking him if he could stitch up his mistake from the last pregnancy after the birth of the new child. Should I consider another doctor or go through with the embarrassment?
A. Doctors are human and do make mistakes and they should be able to admit to them. You have every right to ask for the mistake to be fixed, and directly after your second birth would be the perfect time. You might initially approach the subject by suggesting that you think your labia has healed improperly, it causes you discomfort and you'd like to have it fixed. Your doctor should offer to fix it for no charge. If he does not make this offer and takes offense at your request, I suggest you get yourself another OB/GYN ASAP and maybe look into your options for a malpractice suit.
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Q. The first time I had sex I started bleeding. The blood soaked through my jeans within five minutes. I went to the bathroom and tried to make it stop. It was coming out like I was peeing blood. I went to the ER and by that time there were blood clots coming out. I went into the OR and when I woke up, I had no idea what happened. The doctor that did the stitches told my mom that I tore on my left wall. What happened? How can you bleed that much from down there? I'm pregnant and I'm scared it will reopen in labor and it will happen again.
A. It sounds as if you had a tear in your vaginal wall, which can bleed quite a bit (as you found out). The vagina is surrounded by many large veins and arteries that could have been severed.
Now that you are pregnant, you should mention your previous tear to your OB/GYN so that he or she will be able to monitor the condition of this possibly weakened area. If your doctor thinks there may a risk of the prior tear becoming a problem during delivery, then you may be scheduled for a C-section. Just having your doctor aware of a potential problem beforehand is a huge advantage.
Q. During delivery of my first child I tore a little bit and I had to receive three stitches. About how long does it take to heal?
A. The time it would take for you to heal depends on the extent and location of the vaginal tear. As with most stitches, the healing time can vary between two to six weeks. When the area no longer feels itchy or sore to the touch, then you should be healed. If you want a more specific answer you can ask your OB/GYN.