There is a procedure that is often performed in hospitals during vaginal delivery called an episiotomy. The practice consists of a surgical cut made in the vagina, more precisely in the perineum, under the pretext of facilitating the baby's exit, even though there is no scientific evidence to prove the need and benefits of this procedure in normal situations.
But there is another procedure as questionable or even more so than the episiotomy, and its popular name already foreshadows the controversy. It's the so-called 'husband' stitch'.
Husband stitch is violence
The surgical repair of injury to the vulva is called episiorrhaphy. In many cases, besides sewing up the cut, some medical teams give one more unnecessary stitch, and call it the 'husband stitch'.
The name refers to the fact that some doctors feel entitled to make an extra stitch in the woman's perineum to tighten the entrance of the vaginal canal so that the partner can feel more pleasure during sexual intercourse. This practice is far from being something that concerns women's health and constitutes a serious type of obstetric violence.
The procedure undermines the woman's autonomy over her own body since it focuses on male pleasure at the expense of her own well-being. This practice results in post-surgical pain and pain during sexual intercourse that can last forever.
Besides that, the practice is often done without the woman's consent or suggested without giving her the proper information, as there is no evidence of the physical, emotional and moral impacts it may cause.
Is episiotomy necessary?
In an article for her blog about the practice, obstetrician Dr. Melania Amorim explains that episiotomy can be considered aggression and vaginal mutilation when done without the mother's consent - besides causing pain, delaying healing, causing keloids, desensitization or hypersensitization, requiring more stitches than a natural tear and bursting more easily.
According to her, while the natural laceration happens in the folds of the vagina and following the muscle fibers and skin, the cut and stitches are done in a smooth region of the perineum, resulting in greater chances of bursting during the movements.
Added to these factors is the possibility of the surgery impairing women's sexual satisfaction. In some cases, sex can become painful, since the procedure impairs elasticity in the area.
For Dr. Melania, in an interview with a blog about motherhood empowerment, 'the husband stitch' is a sexist and prejudiced view that shows "the lack of faith in the ability of the female body to give birth and the wish to reconstitute nature for the sexual satisfaction of men".