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What causes anal sphincter damage?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
In women, the most common cause of sphincter injury is vaginal childbirth. The risk is increased if a woman has a large baby; is older than usual at the time of delivery; a long second stage of labor (pushing); a forceps delivery, or a tear that extends to the anus; or an episiotomy (an incision to extend the vaginal opening in an attempt to avoid a tear). The anal sphincters can also be damaged during rectal surgery (to treat prolapse, hemorrhoids, malformations, or rectal cancer), traumatic injury, or forceful anal intercourse.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.