What is this article about?
A perineal tear occurs when the perineum - the area between the vagina and anus - is injured during childbirth. Tears are caused by the fetal head stretching the vagina and perineum during delivery. While perineal tears are common, occurring in over 85% of vaginal births, most do not result in serious injury. However, third and fourth degree perineal tears (also known as severe perineal tears or obstetric anal sphincter injuries), which are experienced by approximately 3% of women giving birth vaginally and 5% of women giving birth vaginally for the first time, are more serious and may lead to complications.