The “husband stitch” refers to an extra stitch that some women may have received after vaginal delivery led to their perineum becoming cut or torn.
This stitch extends beyond what is necessary to repair a natural tear during childbirth or a cut from an episiotomy. The supposed purpose of the husband stitch is to tighten the vagina to its predelivery state.
It is important to note that the husband stitch is neither an accepted practice nor an approved medical procedure. Researchers have gathered most of the evidence about the husband stitch from the testimony of women who have had it and from healthcare workers who have witnessed it.
Read on to learn more about the husband stitch.
The origin of the husband stitch, or vaginal tightening surgery, traces back to the mid-1950s.
While repairing a vaginal delivery tear or episiotomy, a gynecologist would tighten the entrance of a woman’s vagina by adding an extra stitch.
Doctors stated that this procedure could improve a woman’s well-being by preserving the size and shape of the vagina, either to increase the frequency of her orgasms or to enhance a man’s pleasure in intercourse. At that time, it was also called the husband’s knot or a vaginal tuck.
The vaginal birth canal is a muscle that can dilate (stretch open) to allow a baby to pass through for delivery. Sometimes, the vaginal opening may not stretch wide enough to accommodate the baby’s head. Rather than risking a serious vaginal tear, a doctor or midwife may perform an episiotomy.
An episiotomy is an incision through the perineum, which is the area between the vaginal and anal openings. An episiotomy expands the vaginal opening, allowing the baby to come through it more easily.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the routine use of episiotomy is not recommended for women undergoing a spontaneous vaginal delivery.
However, a doctor or midwife might perform an episiotomy should complications develop during labor.
Normal vaginal delivery can cause tears to the vagina, and these tears sometimes extend to the rectum. Stitches may be necessary in some cases. The stitching should not extend into the vaginal opening.
Is the husband stitch a real thing, or is it just a myth?
The husband stitch is not an official medical procedure. There are no studies or medical papers to verify how frequently the procedure takes place or how many women have received the husband stitch.
Most of the information regarding the controversial practice is on social media forums or comes from firsthand accounts of women who claim to have received the husband stitch without their consent.
Do women ever request a husband stitch?
It is unlikely that this is the case, as most people are unfamiliar with the term. If a woman has poor vaginal muscle tone from previous childbirth and finds that it causes sexual dysfunction, a type of cosmetic surgery called a vaginoplasty is available.
Is it possible that a woman can have a husband stitch and not know it?
Some women report that they have received this stitch without their consent.
According to the WHO, when healthcare providers perform an episiotomy, both effective local anesthesia and the woman’s informed consent are essential.
However, a woman may not learn how extensive her perineal repair was until she begins to experience pain or problems during her postpartum recovery.
Does this extra stitch increase sexual pleasure for either partner?
No. Stitching the vaginal opening tighter will likely cause painful sex for both partners.
Are there any advantages to getting an extra stitch?
No. The vagina is a muscle that expands during birth but should eventually return to its predelivery state.
What should a woman do if she learns that she received a husband stitch?
If a woman suspects that she has a husband stitch, she should discuss her concerns with her doctor or midwife or a trusted individual.
The medical professional is at fault if they have performed this extra stitch without the woman’s consent.
Are episiotomies necessary, or is it better for a woman to tear naturally?
Researchers believe that the routine use of episiotomies causes more adverse effects than allowing the woman in labor to tear naturally.
What can women do to ensure that they do not receive a husband stitch?
Women should have a conversation with their gynecologist about their desired birth plan. They should ask specifically about how often the doctor does episiotomies and what the procedure involves.
All episiotomies and some vaginal tears will need stitches.
Although most women heal without problems, some may experience complications from an episiotomy or a husband stitch.
These complications may include:
- an increase in pain at the incision
- persistent or increased bleeding
- leaking of urine or feces
- signs of infection, such as pus, a bad smell, or swelling at the incision site
- persistent pain with vaginal intercourse
- an inability to use tampons
- an increased risk of having to undergo another episiotomy in future births
- scar tissue formation
- prolapse of the uterus
- emotional trauma
The husband stitch is the term for an extra stitch that some women say they have received during the repair of an episiotomy or vaginal tear. This procedure takes place after delivery to decrease the size of a woman’s vaginal opening.
It is an outdated procedure that has no approved medical use or benefit.
Healthcare providers should never perform this procedure without the woman’s consent.