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Why does Obestetric Fistula Isolate Women?


What makes Obestetric Fistula different from other forms of Incontinence?


Obestetric fistula is a medical condition in which a hole develops between the vagina and rectum or bladder. This unnatural hole is caused by a number of different reasons relating to childbirth/bearing, and results in severe urinary incontinence and or fecal incontinence.


What Causes Obestetric Fistula?


Obestetric fistula is most common in under-developed countries where medical procedures like cesarean sections, and other medically advanced procedures, cannot be obtained. When a woman cannot acquire a cesarean and her labor is prolonged, the child’s head presses against the mother’s vagina and cuts off the blood flow to the tissues surrounding the vagina and rectum or bladder. These tissues then disintegrate and rot away, causing a severe hole which leads to very severe incontinence. Obestetric fistula incontinence differs from other types of incontinence because it flows through the vagina. Once the dead tissue deteriorates, a fistula (hole) is left, and urine and or feces constantly leak through the vagina.


More than 75% of women with obestetric fistula have endured labor that has lasted three days or more.


The occurrence of obestetric fistula in the Unites States and other developed countries are more so related to poorly performed abortions or episiotomies (an incision made in the perineum — the tissue between the vaginal opening and the anus — during childbirth) . Pelvic fractures, cancer radiation therapy of the pelvic area, inflammatory bowel diseases, sexual trauma and surgical trauma can cause obestetric fistula as well.


Who Does it Affect?


Obestetric fistula is devastating for obvious reasons. The constant leaking of urine and or feces through the vagina is physically, emotionally and socially crippling. Women with obestetric fistula who live in developed countries have better access to medical treatment and high quality supplies. This alleviates their incontinence symptoms and allows them to gain control of their lives. But women who live in under developed countries may continue to experience trauma throughout their lives.


If a woman experiences prolonged labor, her child most likely dies, and she is left severely incontinence. Because of the foul smell and sickness around her, she is then rejected by her husband and village, and isolated from her home. While this may seem like a very foreign concept, it is all too real. According to the Fistula Foundation, “For every woman that gets treatment, at least 50 go without. At least one million women in this world suffer from untreated obstetric fistula.”


The more people know of this condition, the more help these women will receive. The Fistula Foundation collects all sorts of donations to help these women get their lives back. Incontinence supplies are sent to women all over the map who have to endure this condition. Fortunately women in developed countries have better medical access, but the stigma is still there. Stigmas are generally built upon lack of awareness, so the more people know about obestetric fistula, the less scary it will seem. Obestetric fistula is a serious medical condition, but it is not one to be embarrassed of. With treatment, constant care, and awareness, we can universally help women overcome and take their lives back.

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