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An episiotomy is an incision made in the perineal area, between the vagina and the rectum, during childbirth. This once routinely performed procedure is designed to widen the birth canal and allow for easier delivery. Now less common than during previous decades, the episiotomy is still something that will be encountered by many women who give birth. There are plenty of reasons for doctors to carry out the procedure sparingly is future lack of bladder control or the bowel one of them? In other words, does episiotomy cause incontinence?

There is no need for anybody to point out that a vaginal cut, through muscle tissue and often very close to the anus, causes some discomfort and logically comes with a healing process. Women who have had an episiotomy report that they feel extremely sore after birth. Some feel unable to sit up comfortably for a long time after their baby's birth, while most feel burning sensations during urination and bowel movements for at least a week postpartum. (See how will you feel after giving birth?) Medical professionals have believed that episiotomies can lead to more control over the process of childbirth, preventing bad tears and even avoiding the risk of fecal and urinary incontinence.

Besides the belief that an episiotomy facilitates a faster birth, this was a major reason why many obstetricians carried out the procedure on their patients. But, studies have not found that vaginal cuts during birth reduce the risk of incontinence quite the opposite, in fact. Studies have found that women who had an episiotomy during their birth were twice as likely to have problems with fecal incontinence in the first few months to five years. That does not sound nice at all, does it? The good news? After searching around, I found no evidence that episiotomies are linked to urinary incontinence. If you are currently preparing for labor and delivery, scared of needles but would like an epidural? might also be of interest to you.

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