10 facts on obstetric fistula
Updated May 2014
Each year between 50 000 to 100 000 women worldwide are affected by obstetric fistula, a hole in the birth canal. The development of obstetric fistula is directly linked to one of the major causes of maternal mortality: obstructed labour.
Women who experience obstetric fistula suffer constant incontinence, shame, social segregation and health problems. It is estimated that more than 2 million young women live with untreated obstetric fistula in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Obstetric fistula is preventable; it can largely be avoided by:
- delaying the age of first pregnancy;
- the cessation of harmful traditional practices; and
- timely access to obstetric care.
Preventing and managing obstetric fistula contribute to the Millennium Development Goal 5 of improving maternal health.