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What is a transverse vaginal septum?

A transverse vaginal septum is a horizontal "wall" of tissue that has formed during embryologic development and essentially creates a blockage of the vagina. It can occur at many different levels of the vagina.

Your daughter may start to suspect she has a transverse vaginal septum when she finds that she has a normal hymeneal opening, but a wall of tissue blocking access to the rest of the vaginal canal. Some women have a small hole, called a fenestration, in the septum. During her period, she will find that blood takes longer than the usual four to seven days to flow out of the vagina.

If there is no hole and the septum is completely blocking the upper vagina from the lower vagina, menstrual blood will pool in the upper vagina and may cause abdominal pain.

After a transverse vaginal septum is successfully removed, your daughter should have a normal sexual and reproductive life. If a transverse vaginal septum isn't removed, it will create infertility or provide a form of natural contraception.

Transverse Vaginal Septum | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of transverse vaginal septum?

Common symptoms include:

  • the absence of a menstrual cycle, called amenorrhea
  • periods that last beyond the normal four to seven day cycle
  • abdominal pain from blood collecting in the upper vagina.

What causes transverse vaginal septum?

A transverse vaginal septum forms during embryological development when the tubes that eventually become a vagina don't fuse together properly. The cause of this genetic abnormality is unknown.

Transverse Vaginal Septum | Diagnosis & Treatments

How is a transverse vaginal septum diagnosed?

During an examination, your daughter's gynecologist can confirm that a wall of fibrous tissue is blocking the vagina. Usually, a transverse vaginal septum isn't diagnosed until menstrual problems appear in her teenage years.

How is transverse vaginal septum treated?

A surgical procedure is performed to "resect" or remove the fibrous tissue creating a blockage in your daughter's vagina.

There is a risk of stenosis, or scarring where the surgery took place. This is why the gynecologist may have your daughter use a vaginal dilator for a while to aid the healing process and prevent the vagina from taking on an hour-glass shape.

How we care for a transverse vaginal septum

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 transverse vaginal septum.

Transverse Vaginal Septum | Programs & Services