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|Quick reference medical handouts used
by Pediatric offices
What are vaginal adhesions?
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Vaginal (labial) adhesion is one of those
problems in childhood which causes parents a lot of shock and worry after it is
discovered but in fact is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. This
condition is usually pointed out during a routine well-baby exam or when a
parent notices an odd appearance to their daughter’s genitalia while bathing or
wiping after using the bathroom. Labial adhesions are most often seen in the
first few years of life and are not hereditary.
These adhesions develop because the vaginal skin of young girls is often
irritated from wet and soiled diapers, detergent excess on underpants and from
using various soaps (especially bubble bath). While healing from the irritation,
the inner vaginal skin attaches itself to the opposite surface, creating an
adhesion, or an area where the two surfaces stick together and become firmly
attached. It appears like a membrane of cellophane-like skin with a thin line
running down the middle where the edges of the labia met.
Most of the time, the adhesions themselves produce no symptoms. In some
cases, there may be discomfort and difficulty urinating. If the adhesions are
causing soreness, the child may excessively rub the area.
No treatment is necessary unless the adhesions are associated with repeated
urinary tract infections and pain on urination. If there is no obstruction to
the urine stream, the adhesion is harmless and can be left alone. When the
adhesions require treatment, most pediatricians will prescribe an estrogen cream
to be applied to the labia. This treatment, resolves almost all adhesions.
Doctors do not recommend separating the adhesions forcefully. This will not only
hurt the child, but the procedure will cause the labia to refuse during the
healing process. We have never seen a case that required surgery. Once puberty
begins, the tendency to get vaginal adhesions disappears.
As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as
medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your childs pediatrician.
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