Obstetric fistula is a devastating condition that happens when a woman is in labor for too long, and pressure from her baby’s head tears a hole in the vagina, causing her to leak urine or feces constantly. Maybe she’s too young to deliver, her body is too small, her pelvis is not yet fully formed. Maybe she has diabetes, a malformed pelvis, or other problems that don’t allow a normal, healthy delivery.
Fistula is preventable when: family planning is available, girls don’t get married too young, and nutrition and access to prenatal care are improved. Making sure a woman has the information and resources to understand her pregnancy, space her pregnancies, and seek help can save her from the social and economic deprivation — and physical pain — of fistula.
Fistula can be fixed with surgery; more importantly, it can be prevented so no woman has to endure its pain. When women finally reach a hospital where their fistula can be repaired, they still have to deal with the shame, stigma, and mental distress that surgery can’t touch. Their suffering is needless — with care, information, and planning, no woman should have to cope with fistula.
That’s why Hesperian published Working Together to Stop Obstetric Fistula, now available on our HealthWiki, and why we will continue to expand and improve it for women with fistula or at risk of developing fistula, and their partners, health workers, and communities.