Routine perineal shaving on admission in labour

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Nov 14;2014(11):CD001236. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001236.pub2.


BackgroundPubic or perineal shaving is a procedure performed before birth in order to lessen the risk of infection if there is a spontaneous perinealtear or if an episiotomy is performed.ObjectivesTo assess the effects of routine perineal shaving before birth onmaternal and neonatal outcomes, according to the best available evidence.Search methodsWe searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group’s Trials Register (12 June 2014).Selection criteriaAll controlled trials (including quasi-randomised) that compare perineal shaving versus no perineal shaving.Data collection and analysisTwo review authors independently assessed all potential studies for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and extracted the data using apredesigned form. Data were checked for accuracy.Main resultsThree randomised controlled trials (1039 women) published between 1922 and 2005 fulfilled the prespecified criteria. In the earliesttrial, 389 women were alternately allocated to receive either skin preparation and perineal shaving or clipping of vulval hair only. In thesecond trial, which included 150 participants, perineal shaving was compared with the cutting of long hairs for procedures only. In thethird and most recent trial, 500 women were randomly allocated to shaving of perineal area or cutting of perineal hair. The primaryoutcome for all three trials was maternal febrile morbidity; no differences were found (risk ratio (RR) 1.14, 95% confidence interval(CI) 0.73 to 1.76). No differences were found in terms of perineal wound infection (RR 1.47, 95% CI 0.80 to 2.70) and perinealwound dehiscence (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.01 to 8.00) in the most recent trial involving 500 women, which was the only trial to assessthese outcomes. In the smallest trial, fewer women who had not been shaved had Gram-negative bacterial colonisation compared withwomen who had been shaved (RR 0.83, 95% CI 0.70 to 0.98). There were no instances of neonatal infection in either group in theone trial that reported this outcome. There were no differences in maternal satisfaction between groups in the larger trial reporting this outcome (mean difference (MD) 0.00, 95% CI -0.13 to 0.13). No trial reported on perineal trauma. One trial reported on side-effectsand these included irritation, redness, burning and itching.The overall quality of evidence ranged from very low (for the outcomes postpartum maternal febrile morbidity and neonatal infection)to low (for the outcome maternal satisfaction and wound infection).Authors’ conclusionsThere is insufficient evidence to recommend perineal shaving for women on admission in labour.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Hair Removal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Labor, Obstetric*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Admission
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Perineum*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic