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Vaginal obstruction occurs when a wall of tissue blocks the opening of the vagina. Blockage can occur at many levels of the vaginal wall and can be complete or partial.
The consequences of vaginal obstruction depend on where the obstruction occurs and whether it is complete or partial. For instance, a woman with a partial obstruction may get her menstrual periods as normal but notice that her periods last longer than the typical four to seven days. However, a woman with complete vaginal obstruction, which means there is no hole in the transverse vaginal septum, may not get her period at all. Instead, the blood that should flow out will collect in the upper vagina, which causes abdominal pain.
Typically, a doctor will diagnose vaginal obstruction at birth or when the baby is still a newborn. A doctor may notice the obstruction on an X-ray or via an ultrasound, images from which may reveal fluid in the vagina. Even without imaging tests, a trained doctor will notice an obstruction by abdominal or genital swelling.
If there are no obvious signs, a girl may not discover the obstruction until she hits puberty. At that time, she will not bleed even if she demonstrates other obvious signs of ovulation. She may also experience abdominal pain and swelling that comes and goes as blood builds up behind the obstruction.
Treatment for vaginal obstructions depends on where and how the blockage occurs. For instance, if a girl or woman has an imperforate hymen (the most common cause of vaginal obstruction), meaning the hymen tissue failed to split as normal, correcting the issue would require nothing more than a small incision. Once the fluid drains, the doctor will check for other issues. For this procedure, no anesthesia is necessary.
A high transverse septum, a cause of vaginal obstruction that occurs when the vagina does not fully develop, requires surgery to correct. Depending on the location and thickness of the blockage, the surgeon may have to remove the septum and then reconnect the upper and lower portions of the vagina. Some obstructions that occur higher up in the vaginal wall may require surgical removal. If removal is necessary, the surgeon may use part of the patient’s intestine or pieces of skin to join the upper and lower portions of the vagina.
If you or your daughter were born with a vaginal obstruction, talk to your OB/GYN provider about treatment.
“What is Vaginal Abnormalities: Congenital Vaginal Obstruction?” Urology Care Foundation. https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/vaginal-abnormalities-congenital-vaginal-obstruction
“Transverse Vaginal Septum.” Boston Children’s Hospital. http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/t/transverse-vaginal-septum
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.