Do women with prior obstetrical anal sphincter injury regret having a subsequent vaginal delivery?

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2019 Jul 4;19(1):225. doi: 10.1186/s12884-019-2380-x.


Background: Most women choose to have another vaginal delivery following one complicated by an obstetrical anal sphincter injury (OASIS). However, little is known about patient satisfaction or regret with this decision. Therefore, our objective was to assess decisional regret with subsequent route of delivery following one affected by an OASIS.

Methods: A survey study was conducted among women seen in a specialty postpartum perineal clinic at a tertiary teaching hospital following a vaginal delivery with an OASIS between March 2012 and December 2016 who also had a subsequent delivery during that time period. Women were mailed a 13-item questionnaire between June and October 2017 that addressed pelvic floor symptoms and regret with their decision regarding mode of subsequent delivery. Regret was assessed with a modified Decision Regret Scale. Bivariate analyses were used to compare women with no, mild, or moderate/severe regret.

Results: Among 115 eligible women, 50 completed the survey. The majority (82%, n = 41) had a subsequent vaginal delivery and 18% (n = 9) had a subsequent cesarean delivery. Over one-third (34.9%, n = 15) reported the counseling they received after the OASIS influenced their decision regarding route of subsequent delivery. Fifty-four percent (n = 27) had no regret regarding their decision about subsequent delivery route, while 18 (36%) had mild, and five (10%) had moderate/severe regret. Regret was associated with older age (none: 36.8 ± 3.6 vs mild: 37.3 ± 3.4 vs moderate/severe: 41.7 ± 3.8 years, p = .03) and prevalence of fecal incontinence after delivery with OASIS (none: 15% vs mild: 17% vs moderate/severe: 80%, p = .01).

Conclusions: Most women with an OASIS and a subsequent pregnancy will choose a repeat vaginal delivery, and over half have no regret about this decision. Older age and fecal incontinence following the incident delivery with OASIS were associated with regret regarding subsequent delivery mode.

Keywords: Fourth-degree perineal laceration; Obstetrical anal sphincter laceration; Regret; Satisfaction; Third-degree perineal laceration; Vaginal delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anal Canal / injuries*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / adverse effects*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Delivery, Obstetric / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Fecal Incontinence / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Perineum / injuries*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies