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The 'Husband Stitch' After A Vaginal Birth Can Be Very Bad For Sex
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  • You might have heard it from the elders, like an outdated tito joke. The “husband stitch” refers to an extra stitch down there that’s supposed to tighten your vagina for “better” sex after giving birth. But it could do just the opposite for women, and consequently, for their partners as well.

    More alarmingly is the uncertainty that revolves around it: Is it really being done behind women’s backs? No one really knows. But the idea is still floating out there, which can be a threat to women’s well-being. 

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    Why doctors don’t recommend the husband stitch

    The term “husband stitch” was coined by Sheila Kitzinger in her 1994 book The Year After Childbirth: Surviving and Enjoying the First Year of Motherhood. It was presented as a procedure to “preserve the size and shape of the vagina, either to enhance a man’s pleasure in intercourse or to increase the frequency of female orgasm.”

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    According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), it’s not a routine or common procedure. The possibility of the “husband stitch” comes when a woman who undergoes vaginal birth may require stitches down there if she has a vaginal tear or an episiotomy

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    Here’s why doctors also don’t recommend the ‘husband stitch’:

    The cervix and vagina will not stay dilated.

    The cervix expands to ten centimeters wide to allow the baby’s head, which averages about 11.4 centimeters in diameter, to pass through. It does revert back to its average shape, which is 2.1 to 3.5 centimeters in diameter. It may not be as firm, and it could take some time. 

    The vaginal opening has little impact on a couple’s sexual experience. Sexual pleasure depends more on the pelvic floor muscles, which can be addressed through other interventions, such as exercises and surgery, but not a simple stitch. 

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    Not all vaginal tears require stitching. 

    Natural vaginal tears occur between 44 and 79 percent of the time. It can range from first-degree tears, which don’t require stitches. Third- to fourth-degree lacerations,however, do because the wound may go deep through the vaginal tissue, perineum skin and muscles, and even the anal sphincter and tissue underneath it.

    The aim of having stitches to help heal the wound and not to tighten the vagina. Sure, healing the wound properly helps with gaining a sense of normalcy when having sex. Still, it also helps prevents incontinence and facilitates smooth bowel movement after birth. (Click here to read stories of women who've had vaginal tears or episiotomy.)

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    Episiotomies are also not routine. 

    Healing from an episiotomy takes longer than a vaginal tear and can have more side effects. An episiotomy is now only done when your baby’s shoulders are stuck behind your pelvis (shoulder dystocia), your baby has an erratic heart rate pattern during delivery, and your doctor needs to use forceps or vacuum to help you deliver your baby vaginally. (Read more about episiotomy here.)

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    Very few women may actually have had the “husband stitch” done, but it was a real thing when episiotomies were routine. It may just be a joke now but before you bring it up, consider first the risks childbirth presents to women and their effects on their bodies.

    An extra stitch can do more damage than good. Some women who have stitches in their perineum area report painful intercourse. This only spells zero or dwindling sex life for both moms and dads. 

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