Topic Overview

In women,
perineum is the muscle and tissue between the anus and
vulva. During childbirth, the perineum stretches and
sometimes tears. One way to help prevent tearing is to stretch and massage the
perineum for a few weeks before your due date.

Studies show that
women who did regular perineal massage reported less perineal pain in the weeks
after childbirth. Women having their first vaginal delivery also had lower
rates of
episiotomy.footnote 1

How to do perineal massage

Starting at week 34 of
your pregnancy, take about 5 minutes to massage your perineum, three to four
times a week. The goal is to get the muscle and tissue used to stretching. At
first, it may burn and feel uncomfortable. But this will get better after a few
massage sessions.

  • Sit with your legs apart and your back
    supported. You might want to have a hand mirror handy, so you can see your
    perineum. Or your partner can do the massage for you.
  • Put some
    massage oil on your fingers. (Or you can use a water-soluble vaginal lubricant,
    such as Astroglide or K-Y Jelly.)
  • Place a thumb or finger about
    2 in. (5.1 cm) into your
    vagina, and use it to gently stretch the wall out to the side. Call this 3
  • Still pressing and stretching outward, sweep down to 6
    o’clock and over to 9 o’clock.
  • Repeat for a total of 4 or 5

Related Information



  1. Beckmann MM, Stock OM (2013). Antenatal perineal massage for reducing perineal trauma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017