Practice Bulletin No. 165: Prevention and Management of Obstetric Lacerations at Vaginal Delivery

Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Jul;128(1):e1-e15. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001523.


Lacerations are common after vaginal birth. Trauma can occur on the cervix, vagina, and vulva, including the labial, periclitoral, and periurethral regions, and the perineum. Most of these lacerations do not result in adverse functional outcomes. Severe perineal lacerations, extending into or through the anal sphincter complex, although less frequent, are more commonly associated with increased risk of pelvic floor injury, fecal and urinary incontinence, pain, and sexual dysfunction with symptoms that may persist or be present many years after giving birth. The purpose of this document is to provide evidence-based guidelines for the prevention, identification, and repair of obstetric lacerations and for episiotomy.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Delivery, Obstetric* / adverse effects
  • Delivery, Obstetric* / methods
  • Episiotomy / methods*
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / injuries
  • Humans
  • Lacerations* / diagnosis
  • Lacerations* / etiology
  • Lacerations* / prevention & control
  • Lacerations* / surgery
  • Obstetric Labor Complications* / diagnosis
  • Obstetric Labor Complications* / prevention & control
  • Obstetric Labor Complications* / surgery
  • Patient Care Management / methods*
  • Perineum / injuries
  • Pregnancy
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • United States