Capital & Coast DHB Women's Health Obstetrics & Maternity Service
Third and Fourth Degree Perineal Tears
What is a perineal tear?
Tears can occur in the perineum, the area between the vagina and the anus (back passage). They may be:
• First degree tears – small, skin only tears which heal naturally.
• Second degree tears – deeper tears affecting the muscle of the perineum as well as the skin. Generally second degree tears require stitches. Second degree tears do not usually cause any long-term problems.
• Third and fourth degree tear – involves the vaginal wall, perineum and anal sphincter (the muscle that controls the back passage). These require obstetric intervention.
- Third and Fourth Degree Perineal Tears (PDF, 155 KB)