Vaginal tears are very common and can lead to severe complications such as hemorrhaging, fecal incontinence, urinary incontinence, and dyspareunia. Despite the implications of vaginal tears on women's health, there are currently no experimental studies on the tear behavior of vaginal tissue. In this study, planar equi-biaxial tests on square specimens of vaginal tissue, with sides oriented along the longitudinal direction (LD) and circumferential direction (CD), were conducted using swine as animal model. Three groups of specimens were mechanically tested: the NT group (n =9), which had no pre-imposed tear, the longitudinal tear (LT) group (n =9), and the circumferential tear (CT) group (n =9), which had central pre-imposed elliptically shaped tears with major axes oriented in the LD and the CD, respectively. Through video recording during testing, axial strains were measured for the NT group using the digital image correlation (DIC) technique and axial displacements of hook clamps were measured for the NT, LT, and CT groups in the LD and CD. The swine vaginal tissue was found to be highly nonlinear and somewhat anisotropic. Up to normalized axial hook displacements of 1.15, no tears were observed to propagate, suggesting that the vagina has a high resistance to further tearing once a tear has occurred. However, in response to biaxial loading, the size of the tears for the CT group increased significantly more than the size of the tears for the LT group (p =0.003). The microstructural organization of the vagina is likely the culprit for its tear resistance and orientation-dependent tear behavior. Further knowledge on the structure–function relationship of the vagina is needed to guide the development of new methods for preventing the severe complications of tearing.

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