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What Does It Mean To Have An Imperforate Hymen?

    What Does It Mean To Have An Imperforate Hymen?

    Many people associate the hymen with virginity no matter how untrue it may be. Meanwhile, other important conversations about this part of the body remain undiscussed. This article discusses how there are different types of hymen and the imperforate hymen.

    What Is an Imperforate Hymen?

    The hymen refers to the thin membrane that covers a girl’s vaginal entrance. It is usually in the form of a half-moon, with enough room for menstrual blood to flow out of the opening of the vagina. However, this is not the case for an imperforate hymen.

    In anatomical terms, imperforate translates to the absence of an opening that is supposed to be found in the body. As the name suggests, the membrane extension blocks the vaginal canal, leaving it with no available space to accommodate menstrual blood flow.

    There are some cases wherein the hymen is slightly imperforate, which means that there is a small opening to the vagina. But extra tissue prevents it from being entirely accessible. The amount of blockage can vary depending from case to case.

    An imperforate hymen is a congenital condition (from birth) that any girl at any age can have.

    Types of Imperforate Hymen

    There are different types of hymen, and it is important to know how this may affect you should you have a certain type. They are the following:

    • Imperforate Hymen – The hymen completely covers the opening of the vagina. This prohibits menstrual blood and other secretions to flow out. This is usually discovered around puberty.
    • Microperforate Hymen – In this case, the hymen has a very small opening. Menstrual blood and secretions can flow, however, the female may find it difficult and painful to use tampons or have sex.
    • Cribriform Hymen – The hymen has multiple small openings, which allows menstrual blood and vaginal secretions to come out. However, due to the structure of the hymen, it’s not possible to use tampons or have vaginal intercourse.
    • Septate Hymen – A band of tissue develops across the hymen which leads to 2 small vaginal openings. Vaginal secretions and blood can flow. However, much like in a cribriform and microperforate hymen, tampon use and sexual intercourse is difficult.

    What Causes This Obstruction?

    Unfortunately, there is still no known cause for this condition. An imperforate hymen may be caused by the hymenal membrane failing to form properly during embryological development.

    What Are the Signs and Symptoms You Should Watch Out For?

    Individuals may not discover an imperforate hymen until their first menstrual cycle. But for newborns, an imperforate hymen is observable through the formation of a bulge in the hymeneal membrane. This may occur as a result of a buildup of normal mucus in the vagina that is unable to drain.

    Girls normally have no concerns with an imperforate hymen until they start their period. There are a few noticeable signs and symptoms that may help you identify if your child has an imperforate hymen. Some of these include:

    • Lack of first menstrual cycle or amenorrhea
    • Abdominal pain
    • Back pain
    • Urinary retention and problems (especially during the first period)
    • Painful bowel movements
    • Mass or fullness in the lower part of the abdomen

    How Can It Be Diagnosed?

    Parents or doctors may identify an imperforate hymen in infants because of a bulging in the hymeneal membrane. But, it may also be observed when a female has her menarche or her first period.

    The doctor may detect it through a physical examination. Other hymen anomalies, such as microperforate hymen and septate hymen, can make periods or tampon use problematic.

    Are There Any Treatments for It?

    A minor surgical procedure can treat an imperforate hymen. To avoid scar tissue formation and re-blockage of the hymeneal opening, the doctor will eliminate the excess hymeneal tissue and have some sutures for it instead.

    Some women may need to place dilators into the vaginal canal for 15 minutes each day after surgery. A dilator resembles a tampon in appearance. This prevents the incision from closing and maintains the vaginal opening.

    The surgery just takes a few days for the girls to recover.

    Key Takeaways

    There are different types of hymen, and it is important to know how this may affect you should you have a certain type.

    Treatment for an imperforate hymen is a minor surgical procedure. There should be no long-term effects from surgical removal, and it should not affect a woman’s chance to have children in the future.

    Make sure to keep in touch with your doctor even after the procedure so that you can discuss other concerns.

    Learn more about Women’s Health Issues here.

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    Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

    Ovulation Calculator

    Ovulation Calculator

    Tracking your period cycle, determines your most fertile days and increases your chance of conceiving or applying for birth control.

    Ovulation Calculator

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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Picture of the authorbadge
    Written by Fiel Tugade Updated Jun 20
    Medically reviewed by Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD
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