HealthWomen's Health

Risk Factors For Obstetric Fistula

Risk Factors For Obstetric Fistula

Childbirth is a strenuous process and it can take a toll on a woman’s health and body, leaving her at risk of many possible complications. In the course of prolonged labour and delivery, a hole can develop in the birth canal between the vagina and rectum, bladder and ureter. This condition is called an Obstetric fistula.

Obstetric fistula can have a negative effect on your health because it causes incontinence of urine and faeces. It means that the woman is unable to control urination or bowel movement.

Factors that can increase the risk of Obstetric Fistula

Some factors can make it more likely to have obstetric fistula and they include:

Obstructed Labour

In cases of prolonged labour, contractions can push the baby’s head against the mother’s pelvis. Labour can be prolonged because of the baby’s large size or an abnormal position. During this process, tissues can get trapped and the pelvis compresses, causing a restriction in the blood flow. The lack of proper blood flow causes some sections of the tissues to die, leaving holes between the vagina and the rectum, bladder or ureter.

Lack of adequate medical care

Lack of access to medical care is one of the major causes of obstetric fistula. In areas where there are no trained medical personnel and expectant mothers have to make do with traditional midwives, there is little or no plan for emergencies that may occur during childbirth. In these cases, there is a possibility of the development of obstetric fistula.

Teenage pregnancy

When younger women, especially those younger than fifteen years become pregnant, there is an increased possibility of the development of a fistula. Their bodies are usually smaller, pelvis incompletely developed and unprepared for the rigours of childbirth so it is very likely for complications to occur. Sometimes the perineum, that area between the vagina opening and the anus, tears and leaves holes between the vagina and the rectum or bladder.

Poverty and malnutrition are also major contributors to the risk factors. It makes it difficult for pregnant women to have access to proper medical care and even a proper diet to keep them healthy and ease the process of childbirth. Obstetric fistula can also cause other health complications like infections, sexual problems, recurrent fistulas, narrowing of the vagina and bladder contracture.

Women who suffer from obstetric fistula especially in developing countries are often shunned and stigmatised in their communities. Their relationships with their families and spouses suffer particularly because of incontinence which causes them to constantly soil themselves and give off a bad smell. People in these ignorant, uneducated communities usually do not want to be associated with women perceived as incapable of successfully carrying out their natural duties of bearing children. So instead of receiving much-needed help, these women are often ostracised and left to fend for themselves.

Obstetric fistulas can be treated by surgically repairing the fistula. But it is best to prevent the complication by ensuring access to proper medical care before, during and after childbirth. Teenage pregnancy should also be discouraged by spreading awareness about the possible complications of early pregnancy and encouraging proper sex education and family planning methods.

During pregnancy, you should be in touch with your doctor and your pregnancy should be monitored closely to ensure safe delivery and a healthy baby. Proper medical care reduces the risk of childbirth-related complications that may threaten your health and the health of your little one. If you need medical advice or attention in the course of your pregnancy, speak to a doctor on Doctall.

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