An obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder leaving a woman incontinent of urine or feces or both. Obstetric fistula are most often the result of prolonged or obstructed labor without medical intervention such as a Cesarean section. After what can be nearly a week of labor, the woman is left with chronic incontinence and in most cases, a stillborn baby. Obstetric fistula can also be caused after an extremely violent rape.
Because of their chronic incontinence, these women can become exiled from their communities.Obstetric Fistula are considered a disease of poverty as access to proper medical intervention is not easily accessible.
UNFPA estimates suggest that 2 to 3.5 million women suffer with obstetric fistula in the developing world. Here are some resources to help you learn more about this preventable injury.
Here are some downloadable resources:
- Global Fistula Map (Interactive Site)
- When Childbirth Harms: Obsteteric Fistula (PDF)
- WHO: 10 Facts on Obstetric Fistula
- Fistula Foundation’s Global Problem of Obstetric Fistula (PDF)
- Fistula Foundation’s One Pager on OF (PDF)
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