A vaginal septum is a condition of an underdeveloped vagina. The septum is a tissue that divides the vagina into two sections, either vertically or horizontally. It is a vaginal abnormality, and many women do not realize or feel it until they reach puberty. Abdominal cramps, unusual menstrual flow, and pain can signal this condition. Most women find out about this condition when they become sexually active and feel pain during intercourse. However, there are also some women that never experience any of the symptoms. It is formed during fetal development and can cause future problems if not treated timely.
Causes of Vaginal Septum
A fetus goes through multiple developmental stages before it is fully formed. Sometimes, the sequence of these developments falls out of order and causes deformities. One out of 80,000 infants is at risk of developing a vaginal septum.
In the sixth week of pregnancy, female reproductive organs begin to develop inside the womb. The Müllerian ducts fuse together at a central point, and some of the tissues develop the fallopian tubes and uterus. Other tissues are responsible for forming vaginal walls with a single vaginal canal.
If anything goes wrong at this stage and mutation happens, it can lead to the occurrence of the vaginal septum. A vaginal septum can have the following other internal malformations:
- Skeletal anomalies
- Renal anomalies
- Anorectal anomalies
Types of Vaginal Septums
Following are the types of vaginal septums:
1- Longitudinal Vaginal Septum
Longitudinal vaginal septum (LVS) or double vagina happens when a vertical tissue wall separates the vaginal cavities. During fetal development, the vagina starts as two canals that get merged in the last trimester. However, it does not always merge, and many girls find out that they have LVS when their menstrual cycle begins. Most women with LVS also experience pain during intercourse due to the extra tissue layer. Usually, a doctor notices it while doing a routine pelvic check-up as it is not externally visible.
2- Transverse Vaginal Septum
The transverse vaginal septum (TVS) runs horizontally along the vaginal width, dividing your vagina into top and bottom. It can develop anywhere in the vagina, partially or fully blocking your vagina from the rest of the reproductive system. Women usually find out that they have TVS when their periods start as the blood gets trapped in the canal, causing abdominal pain. If the canal is completely blocked, it will cause swelling of the upper abdomen, missed menstrual cycles, and pain during sexual intercourse.
3- Obstructed Hemi Vagina
In obstructed hemi vagina, a women’s vaginal is partially blocked. It can cause a regular menstrual cycle in one month and a complete absence in the next month, and it can often result in excruciating periods.
Diagnosing Vaginal Septum
For the right diagnosis, your gynecologist will assess your symptoms, perform a pelvic exam, go through family history, and may even ask for an MRI test. Not every vaginal septum requires treatment, as its symptoms are negligible. However, obstructive septums blocking half of the vagina need to be surgically treated to avoid complications with menstruation, sexual intercourse, and childbirth.
Surgical Treatment for Vaginal Septum
Vaginal septums may not always need treatment, mainly if there are no symptoms influencing fertility. If your doctor thinks that your condition will cause pregnancy complications, it is best to get it removed surgically.
Removing a vaginal septum is a brief process with minimal recovery time. Your doctor will remove the extra tissue during the procedure and drain any blood from previous menstrual cycles, resulting in increased menstrual flow and comfortable sexual intercourse. Following are some surgical options for effectively treating vaginal septum:
1- For Longitudinal Vaginal Septum
The doctor will remove all the excess tissues in the surgery, making a vertical wall, leaving your vagina as one single canal.
2- For Transverse Vaginal Septum
The surgery for the transverse vaginal septum is more complex, making your doctor perform some interventions beforehand. For instance, if the drainage of blood is blocked during periods, your surgeon will drain the accumulated blood and then surgically remove the tissue layer to make it a single vaginal canal.
3- For Obstructed Hemi Vagina
For this, the excess tissue will be surgically removed to release the blocking and ease menstrual problems.
It is always better to consult with a professional for better guidance. Book an appointment with the best Gynecologist in Peshawar through Marham for more information.