Ever heard of the "husband stitch" or "daddy stitch"? It refers to when doctors suture a person’s perineum with extra stitching after they give birth — thus making the opening of the vagina “tighter” during sex.
The "husband stitch" is not a procedure with an approved medical name, and some people are unaware that they have received one until it's already occurred — or even that there's a slang name for such a thing.
One of those people is TikTok user Hannah (@hannahhhleigh_). The 23-year-old recently discovered — after years of pain and a sudden realization — that she was once given a husband stitch.
In the video, Hannah recounts seeing another video of a woman on TikTok explaining what a husband stitch is, and "everything made sense" when she considered her own experience postdelivery. Hannah explains, "I gave birth to my son ... in 2019 on a military base in the hospital. I had a second-degree tear with my son — it's common. Anyway, they have to stitch you up after you tear, right? Well, I got stitched up; nothing was said to me." She adds, "I went to my six-week postpartum checkup, and they said everything looked good." Once Hannah was cleared to begin having sex with her husband again, she says, "I noticed that when we [had sex], it was extremely uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful."
Hannah then explained her problems for the past two years. Hannah says in the video, "She [the OB-GYN] was like, 'I know why you're having these problems. It's clear as day: You were stitched wrong.'" Hannah says that her new OB-GYN explained that the opening to her vagina was much smaller than it should be and there was a lot of scar tissue. While Hannah clarifies that the OB-GYN didn't specifically tell her that she had a husband stitch, she expresses confusion as to how her issue wasn't caught before.
Hannah's original video has 2.4 million views, 103,600 likes, and a comments section full of people sharing their own thoughts and feelings about the husband stitch.
I spoke with Hannah, who added that in addition to experiencing discomfort and pain during sex, she had issues with daily activities like inserting a tampon and even sitting down. She said, "It took me a LONG time to heal after birth...I know that can be normal directly after birth, but this went on for quite a while after the fact."
Hannah said that after being told by her previous doctor that her pain and discomfort were normal, she was actually comforted when the second OB-GYN explained that something was wrong. Hannah said, "I was extremely relieved to finally be given an answer and a solution to the problem."
Hannah described watching the TikTok video she came across about the husband stitch over and over again and explained, "I, quite frankly, was in total shock. Neither my husband nor myself knew that this was even a thing, let alone that it was common or had a name. I probably watched the video about 10 times, comparing what she was saying to my past situation, in utter disbelief."
For more context, I spoke with Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale Medical school. Minkin said that while the term "husband stitch" is slang, it's not necessarily a new term — she'd heard the term as a resident in the late '70s.
Minkin said that in her experience, the phrase referred to a singular extra stitch made at the top of a vagina, given to a patient after an episiotomy — a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina to assist with delivery — to tighten the vagina. She said, "It was referred to as the husband stitch because it was felt that after a few kids, the husband wouldn’t be enjoying sex as much. So they would make it a little extra tight for his benefit."
Since the vagina naturally stretches during childbirth, Minkin said that she has had patients who specifically request to be sewn tighter, typically after they've had a few children. However, she added that in the case of the husband stitch, "the primary benefit is for the partner." Minkin said that it's important that you tell your doctor if you are feeling pain or discomfort.
Hannah said that she took some time considering whether she should share her experience on TikTok, but ultimately decided, "If I had the opportunity to potentially spread awareness on the subject, I should take it, even if that meant being vulnerable." She also added that she was stunned by the number of views and comments the video received, and said, "I had such a small platform at the time that it definitely was not expected."
Hannah also encouraged others who feel they may be struggling with a similar issue to advocate for themselves, and explained, "You are your best advocate because you know your body best. If your OB-GYN, primary care doctor, etc., don’t listen to your concerns, get a second opinion. Heck, get a third, fourth, or fifth if you need to. Pain isn’t normal, and you shouldn’t have to live with it."
You can keep up with Hannah on her TikTok, and with Minkin on her educational website here.
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