Is it a myth? A hurtful joke? An urban legend? A combination of hearsay, misunderstanding and chauvinist attitudes? To some, the very idea of a husband stitch is a silly notion which is not at all based in the reality of care. But the practice is taken as very real.
As such now there are no evidences and scientific studies that show how many women have been affected, nor is there a clear method for evaluating how prevalent the husband stitch truly is in obstetrics.
All You Need to Know about Husband Stitch
Is It Myth or Fact?
It’s widely touted as a myth but a quick search online unearths countless stories of women experiencing who have given the stitch whereas the doctor throws a cheeky wink to the husband.
Even today, women report with husband stitch. But whether it’s done intentionally or as the result of medical incompetence is much harder to work out.
What is the Husband Stitch?
The husband stitch is an extra stitch given during the repair process after a vaginal birth, supposedly the purpose is to tighten the vagina for increased pleasure of a male sexual partner. It is also known as daddy stitch.
Story Behind Husband Stitch
The idea of the husband stitch has gained some recent attention following the publication of the short story of Carmen Maria Machado’s story “The Husband Stitch”first published in 2014 by Granta. This describes a woman undergoing the procedure.
Side Effects of Husband Stitch
Now-a-days medical professionals insist the husband stitch is an urban myth and no longer part of a doctor’s repertoire. Even if that is true, many women still experience perineal repairs which amounts to the same thing. Many women who had poorly repaired tears or episiotomies after birth and experienced ongoing pain and problems as a result. The most common side effects of having vaginal opening stitched more tightly than it was before giving birth –
- Being unable to walk for a longer period than is normal after the birth
- Feeling pain when standing up straight
- Painful sex making women fear or avoid having sex
- Chronic pain and swelling
- Ongoing infections
- Reopening of the scar tissue
- Emotional trauma
Can Husband Stitch Be Reversed?
The husband stitch can be reversed but unfortunately it’s not always caught until some time later.
How Do Episiotomy Stitches Heal?
An episiotomy is a surgical cut made in the perineum, which is the area between the vagina and the anus usually to widen the vagina to hasten birth. Husband stitches may be considered more common when episiotomies were routine during vaginal birth. Earlier the popular medical belief was that an episiotomy made a cleaner cut that would be easier to repair and heal better. The logic was also that getting this would prevent a worse perineal tear. Tears during vaginal delivery are graded from first to fourth degree.
Healing sometimes varies as the deeper the cut or tear, the longer the recovery time. A small or first degree tear involves the skin only not muscle and stitches may not even be necessary given. These tears generally heal quickly with little discomfort and pain.
A typical episiotomy or second degree tear involves both the skin and muscle. These usually require stitches and heal within two to three weeks. Also the stitches dissolve on their own during this time. Some women feel little pain after a week while others have discomfort and pain for a month.
If there is a third or fourth degree laceration which is a more serious tear that extends to the rectum, there may be pain and discomfort for a month or even longer. These tears can happen to anyone but are more likely if had episiotomy. In the first few days after birth, there may be trouble urinating and passing bowel movements. Also problems like controlling gas or bowel movements (anal incontinence) for months or even years can happen.
Women who have ongoing problems might assume and think they have been given a husband stitch when it’s just as likely they have had an unnecessarily large episiotomy which hasn’t been repaired well. It was estimated that over 60 percent of women experienced episiotomies in the United States by 1983. Now the goal of a vaginal repair is not to tighten the vulva or vagina but to bring the skin back together enough to facilitate the body’ own healing process.
The husband stitch is a holdover from a time before doctors understood vaginal tone and believed that they were returning women to prime sexual function after birth.