Imperforate Hymen

What is Imperforate Hymen

Imperforate hymen is a hymen that completely covers and blocks the opening of the vagina. Few girls are born with this condition.

The hymen is a thin layer of tissue that surrounds and may partly cover the opening of the vagina. Females are born with a hymen.

Usually, this condition does not cause problems in babies or in young girls. When a girl gets older, an imperforate hymen may prevent menstrual blood from flowing out of the vagina and may cause other health problems.

What are the causes?

The cause of this condition is not known.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms may develop during puberty, which is when menstrual periods usually begin. Symptoms may include:

  • No menstrual period when other body changes are happening during puberty.
  • Abdominal pain and swelling caused by a buildup of menstrual blood.
  • Back pain.
  • Difficulty urinating or having bowel movements.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition may be diagnosed based on your child’s symptoms or during a routine physical exam at birth or later in life. A vaginal exam may be done to confirm the diagnosis. Your child may also have an imaging test (pelvic ultrasound) to rule out other conditions.

How is this treated?

This condition is treated with one of two procedures:

  • Hymenotomy. In this procedure, an incision is made in the hymen to open it.
  • Hymenectomy. In this procedure, part or all of the hymen is removed.

These procedures can be done at the time of diagnosis or can be delayed until just before your child begins puberty.

Follow these instructions at home:

If your child has a procedure to treat the imperforate hymen, follow instructions from your child’s health care provider about home care after the procedure. Home care may include using a device (dilator) to keep the vagina open during healing.

Contact a health care provider if your child:

  • Had surgery to treat the condition, but the opening created in the vagina seems to be closing.

Get help right away if your child:

  • Has severe pelvic or back pain.
  • Is unable to pass urine.
  • Is unable to have a bowel movement.
  • Has any signs of infection, such as fever or chills.

Summary

  • The hymen is a thin layer of tissue that surrounds and may partly cover the opening of the vagina. When a girl has an imperforate hymen, this means that the hymen completely covers and blocks the vagina.
  • This condition may be diagnosed based on your child’s symptoms or during a routine physical exam at birth or later in life.
  • An imperforate hymen can be treated with one of two surgical procedures.
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