Obstetric Fistula

Obstetric Fistula is a childbirth complication that occurs when there is a prolonged pressure from a baby’s head on a woman’s pelvic bone which in turn inflicts damages by causing a hole between the vagina and the bladder (vesicovaginal fistula) or the rectum and the vagina (rectovaginal fistula).

Obstetric Fistula happens as a result of many factors:

  • Prolonged or Obstructed labour
  • Harmful traditional practices
  • Untimely access to good healthcare expertise and facilities
  • Young Maternal age
  • Female Genital Mutilation, amidst all other contributing factors.

A fistula is defined as an abnormal opening between two areas of the body. An obstetric fistula MOST often develops during labour and birth when the infant’s head descends into the maternal pelvis and cannot pass through, usually because:
– Woman’s pelvis is too small or poorly developed
– Infant is too big or is poorly positioned (malpresentation or malposition) – Fistula Care

What causes Obstetric Fistula?

There are many pointers to why Obstetric fistula exists. The most reason it persists in the developing world is majorly due to poor access to obstetric care and bad healthcare policies.

For countries like Nigeria, It is still prevalent due to the existence of socio-cultural beliefs/practices, socio-economic state and poor health facilities. The country’s estimated annual 40,000 pregnancy-related deaths account for about 14% of the global maternal mortality, placing it among the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world for a woman to give birth. However, maternal morbidities including OF account for 20 to 30 times the number of maternal mortalities. – Source

Listed below are some of the known causes

  • Prolonged or obstructed labour
  • Untimely emergency obstetric care,
  • Young age at first birth
  • Cases of Female Genital Mutilation
  • Coital trauma and sexual violence
  • Injury during other gynecologic or obstetric surgery

Obstetric Fistula