I've heard of women having problems of uncontrolled passing of gas or stool after delivery.
After vaginal delivery, some women do have difficulty holding their stool or gas. It occurs much more commonly after injury to the anal sphincter muscle, even if that injury is surgically repaired at the time of delivery, than it does if there is no tearing of the muscle.
Ultrasound imaging in one study demonstrated separated anal sphincter muscles in 40% of the women with obstetric anal sphincter lacerations, despite repair at the time of delivery but it also demonstrated sphincter lacerations 20% of the time that were apparently unrecognized at the time of delivery.
At 4 months after delivery continued anorectal dysfunction was reported by 43% of subjects in the laceration group versus only 7% of the control subjects.
Recent studies suggest that the incidence of anal dysfunction as measured by ultrasound and anal pressure measurements is 8.7% but only 1-2% admit to significant symptoms.
While incontinence of stool is not frequent, passing gas from the rectum involuntarily may happen as often as 26% of the time in some groups of women after delivery.
What about vaginal opening looseness or pelvic prolapse after delivery?
This is a common concern that both women and their partners have about delivery. Unfortunately there is almost no data concerning to what degree the vaginal opening is significantly loosened on a permanent basis.
Similarly there is a lack of studies determining how many women develop pelvic organ prolapse after delivery. No one even knows if episiotomy and repair results in less long term vaginal gaping.
Most investigators agree that postpartum perineal muscle strengthening exercises such as Kegel exercises, will help restore perineal tone. They have even been shown to decrease the incidence of urinary incontinence but they need to be carried on for at least several months.
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