Aunt Vadge: doc stitched me up wrong after birth, now sex is excruciating

Dear Aunt Vadge,

I had my daughter almost four years ago now and I still haven’t fully recovered. The doctor gave me an episiotomy and stitched me up wrong. At the time, I thought the pain I was feeling was normal.

I mean, I just had a baby! That was until I noticed after I started healing that it seems he didn’t stitch me up quite right. There was a tiny hole that has thankfully kind of healed. It’s more of like a little crater now in where the stitching was.

Now if only that was my problem. He apparently doesn’t know how to sew. The doctor added a few more stitches it seems, which causes me to re-tear every time I have sex. It tears the stitched up skin as well as inside of me as well.

When I originally brought this up to the gyno, he just brushed me off… but it’s affecting my sex life. I now get anxiety about having sex. I don’t ever want to do it. EVER. And my husband hates me for it.

I don’t think I would have such an issue with it if the skin there was flexible and didn’t rip. But here I am, with that supposed “extra stitch” all those men ask the doctor for… let me just say, it’s not such a great thing. I hate sex… I always end up in excruciating pain.

Age 25, Canada

Hi there Unstitched,

Thanks for writing. Your situation sounds awful, and I’m very sorry for your pain and suffering at the hands of your doctor, and their dismissal of you. It is infuriating to be brushed off like that when your vagina – and sex life – are so broken.

First, you need to find yourself a gynaecologist who takes your complaints seriously. Don’t accept being brushed off. Your complaint is a very serious one indeed, because you are constantly tearing your skin, which means you are scarring all the time – this is bad news for your vagina, because the more scar tissue, the less sensation and flexibility. Constant tearing just means more damage, then you stop causing the damage, and your marriage suffers. You can’t win.

I understand you are not having sex anyway, but just don’t have penetrative sex at all until this is resolved because you are simply damaging yourself further, making it harder to repair. Ask around for a new gynaecologist, get all your notes sent over, and don’t see doctors of any kind who you don’t feel are caring for you and actively helping you to solve the problem.

There is really nothing we can offer you just yet because it seems to be a surgical problem that needs to be resolved probably surgically – they may need to clean up the mess left by your doctor who can’t sew. It is impossible that you have to live with this for the rest of your life. Vaginas just don’t work like that.

Additionally, don’t be scared to report this to whatever regulatory body exists. You have been sewn up badly with the ‘extra stitch men dream of’ (ridiculous), and not given proper follow-up care after your baby even when you reported this to your doctors. It’s a tragedy.

Women have babies every day and this type of ‘medical misadventure’ just shouldn’t happen anymore. You shouldn’t have a crater in your sewing, be in pain, or not be cared for when you have identified the problem after four years. Splitting open every time you try to have sex is just so problematic on so many levels.

Once you go back to a better gynaecologist for some actual help, we can then help you further with some tips on how to keep the scarring to a minimum, keep any remaining scar tissue flexible, and get your vagina back on track, but it isn’t worth going into just yet because we can’t fix it. Structurally, the flesh needs to be reorganised.  The problem seems clear – your vaginal entrance is inflexible and too small.

Some options they may offer you are vaginal dilators, cream that can help soften scar tissue, or other manual ways to help stretch the skin out a bit instead of surgery to correct the problem. Your new better doctor will be able to help. Also, you may want to get some pelvic physical therapy – there are specialist physical therapists who do some amazing work on reproductive structures, particularly after babies. Every woman should have a session or two after birth as a mandatory exercise. It puts everything back where it belongs and reorganises your insides. Babies cause major disturbances and you aren’t left ‘as you were’ after.

Luckily you are young and will recover quicker, so don’t wait any longer – your youthful flesh will heal up quickly and hopefully without too much scarring.

Please write back after you speak to your new gynaecologist (or have stern words with your old one) – there are so many ways to help you with this in terms of keeping flesh supple and stretchy, and we’d love to help. You are certainly not the only woman to have this problem. Don’t take no for an answer.

And don’t take any crap from your husband. He has hands.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Latest posts by Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N) (see all)