Prevalence of obstetric fistula: A population-based study in rural Pakistan

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Objective: To estimate the prevalence of obstetric fistula, its duration and impact on women's daily life using robust data collection methods in a population-based sample in rural Pakistan.
Design: A population-based, cross-sectional study.
Setting: A rural community in Sindh Province, Pakistan.
Population: Randomly selected women aged 15 years or older.
Methods: A multistage random sampling strategy was used to recruit the women. Lady Health Workers interviewed women in their own homes using a structured questionnaire to obtain symptom data. Women with symptoms of incontinence were then examined by female gynaecologists in their local health facilities to confirm obstetric fistula.
Main Outcome Measure: Obstetric fistula confirmed by gynaecological examination.
Results: Among the 5064 women interviewed (96% response rate), 20 women with obstetric fistula were identified, showing a prevalence of 0.39% of all women (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.22-0.57%) and 0.45% of parous women (95% CI 0.25-0.65%). Significantly more of the women with obstetric fistula compared with parous women without fistula were primiparae and aged fistula, 40% had had this for >5 years and 90% reported a major impact on their lives, yet only four had consulted a doctor, three of whom had failed repairs.
Conclusions: The prevalence of obstetric fistula is high in rural Pakistan. Appropriate provision is needed for fistula repair to reduce the burden of the condition. Alongside this, the improvement of maternity care services is urgently needed to prevent its continued occurrence.

Publication (Name of Journal)

BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology