Obsetric anal sphincter injuries (OASIS) are injuries to the pelvic floor that can occur with vaginal birth.
3rd and 4th degree perineal tears are considered OASIS. A 3rd degree tear extends through the muscle that controls the anus. A 4th degree tear (the most severe) extends through the anal sphincter muscles and into the rectal mucosa. These lacerations occur in around 5-8% of first time moms. This severity of injury can lead to many unwanted side effects, including difficulty holding in gas or stool, pain with intercourse, pain in the perineum, and difficulty with bowel movements.
The good news is: Pelvic health physical therapy can help! Especially when started early. A single-center study published this year showed an overall reduction in symptoms in their patient population, including fecal incontinence, urgency, pain, and an improvement in strength!
If you sustained a 3rd or 4th degree tear and are offered a referral to PT, take it! If you’re not offered one, ask for one!
Kim, Lisa BA1; Weeks, Karen PT2; Geynisman-Tan, Julia MD3 Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Improves Pelvic Floor Symptoms in Women With Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injury, Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: January/March 2022 – Volume 46 – Issue 1 – p 18-24