Imperforate Hymen

Definition - What does Imperforate Hymen mean?

An imperforate hymen is a sheath of tissue that fully obstructs the entrance of the vagina. The presence of an imperforate hymen is typically identified during a baby's medical examinations. However, if it is missed during childhood, the condition is recognized during puberty, when menstrual blood pools in the vagina or uterus as opposed to flowing from the vagina.

FertilitySmarts explains Imperforate Hymen

When a female baby is born, her vagina contains a donut shaped, mesh-like shield of tissue called a hymen. The hole at the center of the hymen gradually widens with age, as sex, tampon use, and physical activity cause the tissue to naturally stretch. However, some infants are born with a hymen that has no hole at the center, but is a solid barrier that blocks the entire vaginal opening. This is called an imperforate hymen. It is a congenital disorder, which means the child was born with it, and it occurred while the fetus was growing in the uterus.

Many imperforate hymens are diagnosed when girls enter puberty. The most predominant symptom is a lack of menstrual period (amenorrhea). This may be accompanied by menstrual period-like symptoms such as cramping, bloating, or lower back pain. However, while menstruation is occurring, the imperforate hymen causes the blood to pool up in the vagina or cervix instead of flowing out of the vagina. This causes additional symptoms, such as pressure or pain in the lower abdomen.

Physicians can easily diagnose imperforate hymens by viewing the interior of the vaginal cavity. In order to remove the hymen, a brief surgical procedure is performed. The procedure can take place when the child is an infant or during puberty.
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