Episiotomy is a procedure in which a small cut is made to widen the opening of the vagina when a woman is giving birth. It may be done to avoid tearing of the skin at the opening of the vagina. It also may be done to help with delivery of the baby.

Talk with your ob-gyn about episiotomy at one of your prenatal care visits. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that episiotomy be done only when it is absolutely necessary. This might include situations when the fetus is stressed and needs to be delivered more quickly, or to prevent larger tears that may happen during delivery. Ask your ob-gyn:

  • How often he or she does episiotomies
  • What type is most often done
  • What type of situations call for this procedure

Together you can make a decision about your particular situation.

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Published: October 2020

Last reviewed: October 2020

Copyright 2023 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.

This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to women's health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.