Three people wearing surgical scrubs

A problem that affects from 50,000 to 100,000 women each year

About 800 women die from pregnancy, or childbirth-related complications around the world every day. For every woman who dies of maternal related causes, it is estimated that at least 20 women experience a maternal morbidity, one of the most severe forms of which is obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between a woman’s genital tract and her urinary tract, or rectum caused by prolonged, obstructed labour without treatment.

Between 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop worldwide each year. Most fistulas occur among women living in poverty, in cultures where a woman’s status and self-esteem may depend almost entirely on her marriage and ability to bear children. Yet fistula is almost entirely preventable. Its persistence is a sign that health systems are failing to meet women’s essential needs.

Obstetric fistula symptoms generally manifest in the early post-partum period. Other, equally severe symptoms, such as psychological trauma, deteriorating health, increasing poverty, and social stigmatization by family and friends can and often do occur.

Obstetric fistula can be prevented and, in most cases, treated. Patients with uncomplicated fistula can undergo a simple surgery that cost $600 per patient, including post-operative care and rehabilitation support.

FAQs about fistula

Woman waits for assitance with her baby on her back in Sudan


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