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Capital & Coast DHB Women's Health Obstetrics & Maternity Service

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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.

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This page was last updated at 4:01PM on February 5, 2020.