What Are Vaginal Anomalies?
Vaginal Anomalies are a category of disorders occurring before birth and involving abnormally formed or absent vaginas (the closed muscular canals that extend from the outside of the female genital area to the cervix, the neck of the uterus.) These occur in about 5% of females with an anorectal malformation/imperforate anus.
Vaginal anomalies include:
- Vaginal Agenesis: A disorder present before birth in which the vagina stops developing. Some patients may have a shorter vagina, a part of a vagina or no vagina at all. This affects one in 5,000 females. Patients with vaginal agenesis sometimes have other abnormally formed parts of their reproductive tract, such as no uterus or a small one in addition to kidney abnormalities or problems affecting the spine, ribs or limbs.
- Imperforate hymen: A condition present before birth in which the hymen (a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina) fails to open up and therefore completely covers the opening to the vagina, blocking menstrual blood from flowing out. Typically adolescent girls with imperforate hymens don't have their periods and suffer pelvic pain, and some may also have pain with bowel movements and difficulty passing urine. A patient with an imperforate hymen can be treated with a surgery in which the hymen is cut to create a normal size vagina so that blood can flow out of it. An imperforate hymen is most often diagnosed after puberty in girls with otherwise normal development.
- Septate hymen: A septate hymen occurs when the thin membrane of the hymen (a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina) has a band of extra tissue in the middle that causes two small vaginal openings instead of one. Teens with a septate hymen may have trouble getting a tampon in or out. The treatment for a septate hymen is minor surgery to remove the extra band of tissue and create a normal sized vaginal opening.
- Transverse Vaginal Septum is a wall of tissue that blocks the vagina (the closed muscular canals that extend from the outside of the female genital area to the cervix, the neck of the uterus) and is formed while a fetus is developing in the womb. Sometimes there is a small hole in the transverse vaginal septum that causes women to have regular menstrual periods, but the periods may last longer than the typical four to seven days. If there is no hole in the transverse vaginal septum, blood may be collect in the upper vagina instead of completely flowing out of the vagina. A transverse vaginal septum will most likely require a surgical procedure to remove the fibrous tissue blocking the vagina.
- Microperforate hymen: A microperforate hymen is a thin membrane that almost completely covers the opening to a young women’s vagina. Menstrual blood is usually able to flow out of the vagina but the opening is very small. A teen with a microperforate hymen may not realize that she has a very tiny opening. If she is able to place a tampon into her vagina, she may not be able to remove it when it becomes filled with blood. The treatment for this condition is minor surgery to remove the extra tissue at the opening of the vagina to create a normal sized opening for menstrual blood to flow out.