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Imperforate Hymen | Overview

What is imperforate hymen?

A half moon of thin membrane normally surrounds the opening of a young girl's vagina. In the case of an imperforate hymen, a membrane extends all the way across the area of the hymen, blocking the vaginal opening. It is easily corrected through a minor surgery.

An imperforate hymen may be detected in a newborn, as there may be a bulge in the hymenal membrane from normal mucus in the vagina that cannot drain. The imperforate hymen may not be diagnosed until childhood or at the time of a girl's first period.

What are the symptoms of imperforate hymen in young girls?

Common symptoms include:

  • lack of a first menstrual cycle
  • abdominal pain, back pain, or difficulty with urination at the time of her first period when the blood backs up in the vaginal canal

What causes imperforate hymen?

An imperforate hymen may occur during embryological development when the hymenal membrane doesn't form properly.

After an imperforate hymen is successfully removed, your daughter will have menstrual flow and should be able to use tampons. The fact that she had an imperforate hymen won't affect her ability to have children or enjoy sexual activity.

How is imperforate hymen diagnosed?

An imperforate hymen can be diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or puberty. Sometimes, the hymen doesn't cause a problem until a girl's teenage years when she has her first period. During an examination, your daughter's gynecologist can confirm that there is no opening to her hymen.

How is imperforate hymen treated?

A minor surgical procedure will be needed to remove the extra tissue covering your daughter's hymen.

An imperforate hymen can be surgically removed in infancy. If discovered later in life, the imperforate hymen can be removed at the time of diagnosis. The procedure removes the excess tissue and places sutures to avoid scarring and re-blockage of the area.

How we care for imperforate hymen

At the Boston Children's Hospital Division of Gynecology and Center for Congenital Anomalies of the Reproductive Tract, an interdisciplinary team of pediatricians, gynecologists, urogynecologists, and colorectal surgeons will work to find the best treatment for your daughter's imperforate hymen.

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