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Vaginal Septum

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Introduction

A Vaginal Septum is a medical condition that exists at birth. Many girls do not realise they are suffering from this condition until they reach puberty. Discomfort, pain, and irregular menstrual cycle are some of the symptoms that indicate the condition. Some girls find out they have a vaginal septum only when they are more active sexually and experience pain during intercourse.

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What is Vaginal Septum?

A Vaginal Septum occurs when the female reproductive system does not develop and merge fully. Within the vagina, the septum leaves a division wall of tissue. The divide of the tissue is not usually visible. However, it can interfere with menstruation, sexual intercourse, and pregnancy.

Since the Vaginal Septum is a congenital condition, it develops while the baby is being grown in the mother’s womb.

A Vaginal Septum is characterised based on the way it forms. The characterisations are:

  • ● Obstructive or non-obstructive (whether the septum blocks the menstrual flow or not)
  • ● Transverse or longitudinal (whether the septum runs lengthwise or across the vagina)
  • ● High or low (the positioning of the septum in the vagina)
  • ● Thick or thin (the thickness of the septal tissue)

How is Vaginal Septum Transversed?

The septum runs horizontally in the vagina, dividing it into a top and bottom cavity. It can be present at low, middle, or high positions. In some cases, the septum may partially or entirely cut off the vagina from other parts of the reproductive system.

In most cases, women discover they have a transverse vaginal septum when the extra tissue starts blocking the menstrual flow. If the blood collects in the reproductive tract, it can cause abdominal pain.

Some women have a small opening in their septum that lets the menstrual blood out of the body. However, the hole might not be large enough and can cause longer menstrual cycles.

  • Longitudinal vaginal septum: Also known as a double vagina, a longitudinal vaginal septum divides the vagina vertically into two halves. One vaginal cavity may be smaller than the other.

In most cases, women discover they have a longitudinal vaginal septum when they start menstruating and use a tampon. Even after using a tampon, they might see blood leaking from their vagina.

This type of Vaginal Septum can make sexual intercourse painful and difficult because of the extra tissue wall.

What are the Causes of Vaginal Septum?

The exact causes of a Vaginal Septum are unknown as of now. Doctors believe the causes are multifactorial, that is, defects in multiple genes with a few influences from environmental factors.

The reproductive organs of a female baby start to develop at about six weeks gestation in the uterus. It occurs when two Müllerian ducts migrate towards each other and fuse together in the middle during gestation. A part of these tissues travel upwards and form the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Another part travels downwards and forms the rest of the reproductive system.

The Müllerian ducts form the vaginal canal by fusing with the vaginal plate. A malformation of the uterus or vagina is the result of disruptions caused to the process.

What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Septum?

The common symptoms and signs of a Vaginal Septum include:

  • ● Painful sexual intercourse
  • ● Abdominal pain
  • ● Swelling in the uterus or vagina
  • ● An abdominal mass filled with blood
  • ● Cyclic pelvic pain

You must seek medical assistance if you experience these symptoms.

How is Vaginal Septum Diagnosed?

Many medical conditions can cause symptoms similar to those caused by a Vaginal Septum, such as endometriosis.

The doctor will begin by asking you about your medical history. Then, the doctor may give you a pelvic examination to check for abnormalities or anything unusual.

Depending on what he/she may find during the pelvic exam, an ultrasound or MRI may be done. These tests create detailed images of the uterus, cervix, and vagina with the help of sound waves. It can help confirm the diagnosis of a vaginal septum based on what the results show.

The imaging tests can also be used to check for reproductive duplications that sometimes develop along with a vaginal septum. For example, some women with a vaginal septum have extra organs in their reproductive tract such as a double vagina.

How is Vaginal Septum Treated?

In cases where Vaginal Septums do not cause symptoms or impact fertility, treatment may not be required. However, women who experience the symptoms of a vaginal septum may have to get it removed surgically.

The removal of a Vaginal Septum is a simple surgery that involves minimal recovery time. During the surgery, the surgeon will remove the septum using surgical tools. In case there is a collection of blood from your previous menstrual cycles, the doctor will drain that as well. Once the surgery is complete, you may not feel pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse.

What is the Results of Vaginal Septum Treatment?

The outlook of Vaginal Septum surgery is usually positive. Mostly, the surgery causes no complications and offers a lesser recovery time.

What are the Risks Associated with Vaginal Septum Treatments?

The risks of Vaginal Septum surgery are quite rare. However, post the surgery, some women may experience:

  • ● Genital soreness
  • ● Light vaginal bleeding
  • ● Slight pain

In cases of vaginal scarring, the doctor may advise a post-operative vaginal dilation. It is a type of therapy that stretches the vaginal tissues to restore the elasticity and capacity of the vagina

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FAQ's

Can you Get Pregnant with a Vaginal Septum?

Vaginal Septums can cause difficulty while getting pregnant or during pregnancy. However, in some cases, women can get pregnant with a Vaginal Septum.

How Common is the Vaginal Septum?

The most common type of the Müllerian anomaly, known as the septate uterus, affects three to seven per cent of women of the general population.

How Long is the Recovery from a Vaginal Septum Surgery?

You can get back to school or work within three to five days of the surgery and expect a full recovery within two to four weeks.

Can a Vaginal Septum Cause Infertility?

No, Vaginal Septums do not cause infertility. However, they do interfere with your ability to carry your baby to full term.

Does a Vaginal Septum Cause Painful Periods?

Yes, a Vaginal Septum may cause unusual pain before and during the periods. In some cases, a tampon may not be able to prevent the menstrual blood from leaking out.

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