(Laceration, Vaginal; Vaginal Tears; Tears, Vaginal)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Vaginal lacerations are tears in the vagina or in the skin and muscle around its opening. Tears are most common in the space between the opening of the vagina and the rectum (perineum). The tear may be minor or very deep.
Deep tears may happen during vaginal delivery when:
Minor tears may also happen during sex or from an injury to the crotch.
Birth factors that may raise the risk are:
Other things that may raise the risk are:
Vaginal tears cause pain and bleeding.
The doctor will see tearing that happens to a woman giving birth.
A woman who is not giving birth will be asked about her symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Some tears may heal on their own. Other tears may need to be repaired with stitches.
The risk of this problem may be lowered by massaging the perineum with fingers and a lubricating jelly starting at 34 weeks of pregnancy. This will soften the skin and may help it stretch during labor.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services
Women's Health Matters
Perineal massage during pregnancy. American Pregnancy website. Available at: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/labor-and-birth/perineal-massage-pregnancy. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Perineal trauma and repair in labor and delivery. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/perineal-trauma-and-repair-in-labor-and-delivery. Accessed August 24, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardBeverly Siegal, MD, FACOG
Last Updated: 8/24/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.