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The Risk of Infection After an Episiotomy

written by: Cherrineb • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 8/22/2009

An episiotomy is a surgical cut used to increase the size of the vaginal opening during labor and delivery. However, there are risks associated with this procedure. This article with discuss after-care along with basic signs and symptoms of an infection.

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    An episiotomy is a surgical cut performed to enlarge the vagina during a baby's labor and delivery. One medical reason for an episiotomy is the delivery of a baby so large that an episiotomy can help provide adequate space. A physician may review the pros and cons of an episiotomy with a patient.

    One common risk can be constant pain lasting for a few months or longer. Another possible episiotomy risk is a wound infection, so a patient should be proactive and check that the episiotomy site is healing without complications. A patient should also ask detailed questions about caring for the surgical site.

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    Episiotomy After-Care

    A episiotomy requires regular medical and home care. A physician may advise a patient to take pain relievers for pain reduction, and will determine the type for the patient. For example, some patients may be advised to use aspirin, while patients with an aspirin allergy will be advised to use other pain relievers.

    A physician may recommend cool soaks after the episiotomy. A patient may want to take cool baths during the two days following the surgical cut. The patient can enjoy the cool soaks twice daily or may feel better soaking once per day instead. The cool soaks help reduce discomfort and swelling as the body adjusts to the surgical procedure.

    A patient should contact her health care provider as soon as there are signs of an infection. One sign is constant pain and tenderness while going to the bathroom or bending to pick an item off the floor.

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    Signs of an Episiotomy Infection with Treatments

    A physician will schedule a medical check-up within six weeks after the episiotomy has been performed to check for healing. The physician will check for signs of episiotomy infection such as redness and pain.

    Treatments for an infection differ among patients. For example, a mild infection may require an antibiotic treatment. It is important for the patient to fully use her antibiotic treatment under the physician's guidance.

    Another medical concern is constant pain, which may interfere with intimate physical relationships. A physician may ask detailed questions about the pain, such as about the intensity, and prescribe a stronger pain medication.

    An episiotomy infection is less likely with proper wound care. An episiotomy patient should always carefully follow wound care instructions.