Incidence, severity, and determinants of perineal pain after vaginal delivery: a prospective cohort study

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Oct;191(4):1199-204. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2004.02.064.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the frequency of perineal pain in the 6 weeks after vaginal delivery and to assess the association between perineal trauma and perineal pain. Study design This was a prospective cohort study of parturients at 1 day, 7 days,' and 6 weeks' post partum in an academic tertiary obstetric unit in Toronto, Canada. Four hundred forty-four women were followed up, including women with an intact perineum (n=84), first-/second-degree tears (n=220), episiotomies (n=97), or third-/fourth-degree tears (n=46). Primary outcome was the incidence of perineal pain on day of interview; secondary outcomes were pain score measurements and interference with daily activities.

Results: Perineal trauma was more common among primiparous women, those with operative vaginal deliveries, and those with epidural analgesia during the second stage of labor. The incidence of perineal pain among the groups during the first week was intact perineum 75% (day 1) and 38% (day 7); first-/second-degree tears 95% and 60%; episiotomies 97% and 71%; and third-/fourth-degree tears 100% and 91%. By 6 weeks, the frequency of perineal pain was not statistically different between trauma groups.

Conclusion: Acute postpartum perineal pain is common among all women. However, perineal pain was more frequent and severe for women with increased perineal trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Delivery, Obstetric*
  • Episiotomy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pain
  • Perineum / injuries*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Prospective Studies