The husband stitch or husband's stitch, also known as the daddy stitch, husband's knot and vaginal tuck, is a surgical procedure in which one or more additional sutures than necessary are used to repair a woman's perineum after it has been torn or cut during childbirth.[a] The claimed purpose is to tighten the opening of the vagina and thereby enhance the pleasure of her male sex partner during penetrative intercourse. The Husband stitch was for long considered an urban legend, but since then, numerous reports have interviewed witnesses, both patients and doctors.
While repair of the perineum may be medically necessary, an extra stitch is not, and may cause discomfort or pain. Use of the term in the medical literature can be traced to Transactions of the Texas State Medical Association in 1885, where a doctor claimed to have performed one.[b]
"Dr. Geo. Cupples was called upon to explain the 'Husband Stitch,' which he did as follows: He said that when he was stitching up a ruptured perineum, of a married lady, the husband was an anxious and interested observer, and when he had taken all the stitches necessary, the husband peeped over his shoulders and said, 'Dr., can't you take another stitch?' and he did, and called it the 'Husband Stitch'."
The term is also referenced in What Women Want to Know (1958),[c] and in The Year After Childbirth: Surviving and Enjoying the First Year of Motherhood, written by Sheila Kitzinger in 1994.
Few studies exist to determine whether the procedure occurs often and how many women have been affected beyond anecdotal evidence. Some medical practitioners have asserted that the procedure is mostly an urban legend, and false attribution, while others have claimed to know doctors who perform the procedure. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, according to a report by Fatherly, does not deny that the procedure happens, while alleging that it “is not standard or common.” Other doctors, such as Jean Marty, head of the Union of Gynecologysts in France, have claimed that the idea of a Husband Stitch comes from botched episiotomies and poor stitching, that lead women to have pain during sexual intercourse and while urinating. Episiotomies have become a routine procedure around the world, in spite of studies that claimed it offers no benefits to pregnant people.
However, there are several accounts of women who claim to have undergone this procedure without their consent. There have been several journalistic investigations on the existence of the Husband Stitch, trying to determine if it was real. They have overwhelmingly determined that the practice does exist, as seen in reports by Chelsea Ritschel, writing for Healthline, by Kaitlin Reilly for Yahoo Life, by Anam Alam to Thred, in reports from French Newspapers Grazia, and Le Monde.
Belgian researchers Julie Dobbeleir, Koenraad Van Landuyt and Stan J. Monstrey have studied the practice, finding evidence of it happening in Belgium at least since the 50s:
Vaginal tightening surgery has been around since the mid fifties, where gynecologists used to tighten the entrance of a woman’s vagina with an extra stitch while repairing vaginal and perineum tears or episiotomies after giving birth. At that time it was notoriously known as the ‘‘husband’s stitch,’’ the ‘‘husband’s knot,’’ or the ‘‘vaginal tuck,’’ and doctors discreetly referred to this procedure as ‘‘improving a woman’s well-being.’’
The Husband Stitch has also been referenced in a 2004 study about the abuse of episiotomies in Sao Paulo:
Professionals we have interviewed often mention the ponto do marido (husband’s stitch), intended to make the vaginal opening even tighter after delivery. Frequent complications are vulval and vaginal pain, scarring problems and deformities that need further surgical correction. Long-term consequences for sexual relations of episiotomy need further study.
Similarly in Cambodia, the practice has been linked to high rates of episiotomy: "A study in the NIH database found that the continued use of episiotomies in Cambodia was due to many doctors’ belief that they would provide women with a “tighter and prettier vagina” if they gave her an episiotomy."
OBGYN Jesanna Cooper, MD has also pointed out the risks to vaginal health connected with the procedure, and the lack of benefits: "A ‘husband stitch’ would not affect overall vaginal tone, as this has much more to do with pelvic floor strength and integrity than with introitus [opening] size". A report on Fatherly also warned men not to see it as a joke: "Best case scenario, the person delivering your kid is going to think you don’t know how sex works. Worst case scenario, it backfires with a pointless stitch that could cause your partner more pain. Even if it’s coming from a good place, the best way to reduce the risk of someone not getting a joke is to stop telling it."
A short story by Carmen Maria Machado, "The Husband Stitch", first published in 2014 by Granta and later published in the collection Her Body and Other Parties, describes a woman undergoing the procedure.
In Doom Patrol's season 2 2020 premiere Cliff's father tells him, "When that baby doctor asks if you want the husband stitch, you tell him, "I'll take two."
In Colin From Accounts' 2022 season 1 episode 4 a patient's male companion asks the protagonist student doctor to "throw another stitch in there, make it like new" and later on a different patient's male companion asks her to "chuck a husband stitch in there".
- ^ "Vaginal tightening surgery has been around since the mid fifties, where gynecologists used to tighten the entrance of a woman's vagina with an extra stitch while repairing vaginal and perineum tears or episiotomies after giving birth. At that time it was notoriously known as the 'husband's stitch', the 'husband's knot', or the 'vaginal tuck', and doctors discreetly referred to this procedure as 'improving a woman's well-being'."
- ^ "Dr. Geo. Cupples was called upon to explain the 'Husband Stitch,' which he did as follows: He said that when he was stitching up a ruptured perineum, of a married lady, the husband was an anxious and interested observer, and when he had taken all the stitches necessary, the husband peeped over his shoulders and said, 'Dr., can't you take another stitch?' and he did, and called it the 'Husband Stitch'."
- ^ "Such a problem confronted a colleague of mine, whose pregnant patient asked him before delivery if he would please put in what she referred to as 'her husband's stitch'. It turned out that she wanted him to tighten up her vagina somewhat, so that it would revert to its original state. The doctor took her at her word and, following delivery of her fourth baby, performed a perineorrhaphy. This operation has the effect of tightening the sphincter and rendering the introitus somewhat smaller."Unhappily, the patient and her husband decided that the 'stitch' had been made too tight, was unsatisfactory, and sued the doctor for malpractice, asking something in the neighborhood of a hundred thousand dollars. The doctor won his case, though not without difficulty, and it was a genuine legal battle despite the humorous implications of the issue."
- ^ Kitzinger, Sheila (1994). The Year After Childbirth (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0192177841.
- ^ a b c d e Vinopal, Lauren (17 August 2017). "Who's Afraid of the 'Husband Stitch'? New Moms Everywhere". Fatherly. Archived from the original on 16 October 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
- ^ a b Dobbeleir, Julie M. L. C. L.; Van Landuyt, Koenraad; Monstrey, Stan J. (May 2011). "Aesthetic surgery of the female genitalia". Seminars in Plastic Surgery. 25 (2): 130–41. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1281482. PMC 3312147. PMID 22547970.
- ^ Braun, Virginia; Kitzinger, Celia (January 2001). "The perfectible vagina: Size matters". Culture, Health & Sexuality. 3 (3): 263–277. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.552.8931. doi:10.1080/13691050152484704. S2CID 143982758.
- ^ Ritschel, Chelsea (29 January 2018). "The 'Husband Stitch' During Episiotomy Repair is a Disturbing Reality for Many New Mothers". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 February 2018. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
- ^ Transactions of the Texas State Medical Association. Vol. Seventeenth Annual Session. Houston, Texas: Texas State Medical Association. 21–23 April 1885.
- ^ Transactions of the Texas State Medical Association. The Association. 1885.
- ^ Imerman, Harold M.; Dewey, Thomas Blanchard (1958). What Women Want to Know: A Noted Gynecologist's Guide to the Personal Problems of Women's Health. New York: Crown. p. 134.
- ^ Kitzinger, Sheila (1994). The Year After Childbirth: Surviving and Enjoying the First Year of Motherhood. HarperCollins Canada. ISBN 9780002550727.
- ^ a b Murphy, Carrie (24 January 2018). "The Husband Stitch Isn't Just a Horrifying Childbirth Myth". Healthline. Archived from the original on 2 February 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- ^ "Le point du mari, un vrai scandale ? - Elle". elle.fr (in French). 2014-06-24. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ "Derrière le « point du mari », le traumatisme de l'épisiotomie". Le Monde.fr (in French). 2014-04-18. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ Hartmann, Katherine; Viswanathan, Meera; Palmieri, Rachel; Gartlehner, Gerald; Thorp, John; Lohr, Kathleen N. (2005-05-04). "Outcomes of Routine EpisiotomyA Systematic Review". JAMA. 293 (17): 2141–2148. doi:10.1001/jama.293.17.2141. ISSN 0098-7484. PMID 15870418.
- ^ "Selective versus routine use of episiotomy for vaginal birth". www.cochrane.org. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ Halton, Mary (26 April 2018). "The 'Husband Stitch' Leaves Women in Pain and Without Answers". Vice.
- ^ "The 'Husband Stitch' during episiotomy repair is a disturbing reality for many new mothers | The Independent". Independent.co.uk. 2018-02-07. Archived from the original on 2018-02-07. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ "Is 'the husband stitch' a medical myth? Women speak out about their experience". Yahoo Life. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ "Understanding the pain behind the 'husband stitch'". Thred Website. 2023-01-17. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ Mezaguer, Louhann; auteurs-louhann_mezaguer (2021-11-26). "Point du mari : tout savoir sur cette mutilation gynécologique faite à l'insu des femmes en post-partum pour favoriser le plaisir de l'homme". Grazia (in French). Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ "Derrière le « point du mari », le traumatisme de l'épisiotomie". Le Monde.fr (in French). 2014-04-18. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ Dobbeleir, Julie M. L. C. L.; Landuyt, Koenraad Van; Monstrey, Stan J. (May 2011). "Aesthetic Surgery of the Female Genitalia". Seminars in Plastic Surgery. 25 (2): 130–141. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1281482. ISSN 1535-2188. PMC 3312147. PMID 22547970.
- ^ Diniz, Simone G; Chacham, Alessandra S (2004-01-01). ""The Cut Above" and "the Cut Below": The Abuse of Caesareans and Episiotomy in São Paulo, Brazil". Reproductive Health Matters. 12 (23): 100–110. doi:10.1016/S0968-8080(04)23112-3. ISSN 0968-8080. PMID 15242215. S2CID 25469154.
- ^ Schantz, Clémence; Sim, Kruy Leang; Ly, Ek Meng; Barennes, Hubert; Sudaroth, So; Goyet, Sophie (May 2015). "Reasons for routine episiotomy: A mixed-methods study in a large maternity hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia". Reproductive Health Matters. 23 (45): 68–77. doi:10.1016/j.rhm.2015.06.012. ISSN 1460-9576. PMID 26278834. S2CID 23339273.
- ^ "The Husband Stitch Isn't Just a Horrifying Childbirth Myth". Healthline. 2018-01-24. Retrieved 2023-03-10.
- ^ Machado, Carmen Maria (28 October 2014). "The Husband Stitch". Granta. Archived from the original on 28 January 2018. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
- ^ "Make it Tighter: The Husband's Stitch". livewire.thewire.in. 2022-04-13. Retrieved 2023-01-30.
- ^ "Colin From Accounts Season 1 Episode 4 Recap". reelmockery.com. 2022-04-13. Retrieved 2022-12-15.
Braun, Virginia, and Celia Kitzinger. “The Perfectible Vagina: Size Matters.” Culture, Health & Sexuality, vol. 3, no. 3, 2001, pp. 263–277., https://doi.org/10.1080/13691050152484704.
Braun, V.; Wilkinson, S. (4 August 2010). "Socio-cultural representations of the vagina". Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology. 19 (1): 17–32. doi:10.1080/02646830020032374. S2CID 145198475.
Dobbeleir, Julie M.L.C.L., et al. “Aesthetic Surgery of the Female Genitalia.” Seminars in Plastic Surgery, vol. 25, no. 02, 2011, pp. 130–141., https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0031-1281482.
Green, Fiona J. (August 2005). "From clitoridectomies to 'designer vaginas': The medical construction of heteronormative female bodies and sexuality through female genital cutting". Sexualities, Evolution & Gender. 7 (2): 170. doi:10.1080/14616660500200223.
Mayra, K., Sandall, J., Matthews, Z. et al. Breaking the silence about obstetric violence: Body mapping women’s narratives of respect, disrespect and abuse during childbirth in Bihar, India. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 22, 318 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-022-04503-7
Simone G Diniz, Alessandra S Chacham, “The Cut Above” and “the Cut Below”: The Abuse of Caesareans and Episiotomy in São Paulo, Brazil, Reproductive Health Matters, Volume 12, Issue 23, 2004, Pages 100-110, ISSN 0968-8080, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(04)23112-3.
Zaami S, Stark M, Beck R, Malvasi A, Marinelli E. Does episiotomy always equate violence in obstetrics? Routine and selective episiotomy in obstetric practice and legal questions. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2019 Mar;23(5):1847-1854. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_201903_17219. PMID: 30915726.