Aunt Vadge: I just had a baby and have a tear in my labia – what can I do to soothe it?

Dear Aunt Vadge, 

I just had my first baby six days ago. I have what I’m assuming is a cut that feels like it’s right along the crease where my labia majora and labia minora meet up. I’m not sure in placement or how bad it is, ’cause it hurts too bad to try to look. Anyways, what can I do to help soothe the pain from it, especially when urinating? I always use my pero bottle and I have tried witch-hazel pads and a anesthetic spray, but nothing helps. It is so painful it nearly brings me to tears anytime I urinate. Any advice is welcome, thanks. 

Sincerely,
Hurting
Age: 19
Country/Area: United States

Dear Hurting,

That sounds really painful!

There are a few options, and a combination of them all is probably most useful.

  1. Keep the wound clean with warm water and antibacterial liquid of some kind. This is going to be hard, because it will hurt, but it needs to be done.
  2. Use a soothing antibacterial ointment after cleaning, which will offer a protective barrier against urine and bacteria, plus keep the wound moist, and kill germs.
  3. When you urinate, pour a stream of warm water from a cup over your vulva to dilute the acidic urine. This will reduce the pain significantly.
  4. Be examined by a doctor or nurse to see how bad your cut is and if you need more help.

#1. Cleaning your labial wound
Any wound heals faster when kept clean, to keep germs out as it heals. Germs love nothing more than raw flesh to feast and breed on, so you want to keep them out. Use the warm water method below – or any method you find that works for you – to clean the cut between your labia thoroughly, even though this is going to hurt.

Use a cotton swab or cotton bud, and slide the cotton bud (like a Q-tip) down between the labia with some antibacterial solution on it, perhaps some iodine, and warm water. It will sting less every day, as it heals. Do that two or three times per day, and less as time goes by and it starts to heal, or as otherwise directed by your doctor.

#2. Soothing ointments
There are so many around, so find one that is more natural and nice than unnatural and harsh. It is likely to be thick and sticky, so it stays on the skin. One designed for cuts and tears is ideal, and because your cut is between your labia, on ‘outside’ skin (not inner vaginal mucosa) it is treated like skin anywhere else on your body. The ointment you use doesn’t need to be antibacterial if you don’t have it or can’t afford to buy some, but something even like Vaseline or paw paw ointment will do the trick. It just needs to cover the wound with a film to protect it, keep it moist, and keep germs out. It should be clean before you apply this ointment.

#3. How to pour the warm water over your urine stream
In terms of urinating, it can be really soothing to pour warm water over your stream of urine as it exits your urethra, so the warm water mixes with the acidic urine, making it diluted and therefore not painful. This is a bit annoying to do, but it really does make a difference to your peeing experience.

Before you sit on the toilet, fill a large plastic cup (or whatever) with warm water, and when you sit down to pee, just slowly pour it over your whole vulva as you pee. Once you’re done, gentle pat the area dry – don’t wipe too much. If you have the ointment on, it won’t wash away with pat drying, but it will if you wipe. The water also can’t get into your wound if it has the ointment on it.

#4. Get checked
If it feels hot and swollen, it could be infected. If it’s not getting better, but only getting worse or staying the same, you need help with it. A lot of vaginal and vulvar tears and cuts heal quickly by themselves (like cuts in our mouth), but tears from giving birth tend to be more severe than other types of cuts and tears. If you can’t see it, and can’t get anyone near you to take a look, getting checked out seems important, even if it’s a nurse at your local free clinic.

You could also try to get a mirror or if you have someone around to take a photo, so you can see it properly, that would be good. (I know that is not always possible.)

Wounds are supposed to get better, not stay the same or get worse, so keep tabs on it, keep it really clean, and it should start to heal up. If it doesn’t, you need help, so don’t wait too long – you could be doing yourself damage.

Write anytime. We’d love to hear from you.

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.