When it comes to women’s reproductive health, various conditions can affect them both physically and emotionally. One of those is the vaginal septum, a dividing wall or barrier in the vaginal canal. Women who have it usually have pain or discomfort when engaging in sexual activity. Menstrual abnormalities can also happen, including excessive bleeding or blocked menstrual flow. A vaginal septum can sometimes cause infertility or make it difficult to conceive. Therefore, for all of these reasons, and many others, it is very important to get diagnosed and treated to avoid further complications.
If you’re facing symptoms such as pain during sexual intercourse, menstrual irregularities, or concerns regarding fertility due to a vaginal septum, our experienced gynecologist in Loxahatchee, Florida, is here to help. When you visit our clinic, you will have the opportunity to meet our doctors, who will guide you through the whole process and support you along the way. In the following paragraphs, we will explore in detail the symptoms and treatments associated with vaginal septum and all the treatment options.
What Is a Vaginal Septum?
This anomaly is characterized by the presence of a partition or barrier in the canal, ending in vaginal blockage. It is different from the usual structure of the vagina and causes a range of symptoms and difficulties. There are two types of this condition: transverse vaginal septum and longitudinal vaginal septum. A longitudinal vaginal septum consists of a vertical barrier within the vaginal tube, whereas a transverse vaginal septum involves a horizontal split that blocks the vaginal canal. These splits may totally or partially block the vaginal opening, which may have negative functional and anatomical effects. When a vaginal septum forms, it can cause a number of problems. Women who have a vaginal septum may have pain or discomfort during sexual activity, abnormal menstrual cycles, or difficulty conceiving.
Transverse Vaginal Septum
One type of vaginal septum that can occur is the transverse vaginal septum. In this condition, a horizontal section forms in the vaginal canal, resulting in a blockage. It divides the vagina into two separate compartments, obstructing the natural blood flow and functionality of the reproductive system. Women with transverse vaginal septum may have numerous symptoms, but the most obvious one is difficulty during sexual intercourse. The presence of vaginal blockage can cause pain and discomfort or even make penetration challenging. Therefore, it is understandable that this issue can significantly impact one’s sexual relationships and overall well-being.
In addition to sexual difficulties, the transverse vaginal septum can also cause irregular menstrual cycles. The menstrual flow can be obstructed or restricted, ending in heavier or prolonged periods. Due to the buildup of menstrual blood behind the septum, some women may also feel pelvic pain or discomfort.
A pelvic examination is often necessary to diagnose a transverse vaginal septum, which can then be confirmed by imaging methods like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound. Once a disorder has been determined, potential treatments can be explored to address it and treat all the symptoms. In many cases, surgery is needed, and its goal is to restore the normal anatomy of the vaginal canal and improve reproductive and sexual health. During the procedure, the septum is carefully excised, allowing the surgeon to create a functional vaginal opening. The specific surgical approach may vary depending on the individual case and the expertise of the gynecologist.
Recovery after this procedure typically involves a healing period during which patients may need to avoid sexual activity or using tampons. Regular follow-up appointments with the surgeon are essential to monitor the healing process and address any concerns or complications that may arise.
Longitudinal Vaginal Septum
Another type of vaginal septum that can happen is the longitudinal vaginal septum. In this one, we can see a vertical partition that blocks the vaginal canal and divides the vagina into two different sections. This condition differs from a transverse vaginal septum in its orientation and can present unique challenges for affected patients. A longitudinal vaginal septum can cause various symptoms, each with its own severity and manifestation. Sexual interaction may be challenging for women with this disease due to discomfort and pain: the septum’s presence makes the penetration painful and difficult.
Another typical problem is irregular menstruation. The normal flow of menstrual blood can be obstructed or restricted by the septum, resulting in heavier or more extended periods. Due to the buildup of blood behind the barrier during menstruation, women may also feel cyclic pelvic pain or cramps. In some cases, it can even cause problems with fertility. Because of the mentioned problems, the sperm can have problems reaching the vaginal canal.
Additionally, if a woman does get pregnant, the septum can prevent the vaginal canal from expanding during birthing, which often requires surgery.
Diagnosing a longitudinal vaginal septum typically involves a thorough pelvic examination. In addition, your doctor may recommend imaging techniques such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to look at the septum’s location. Once diagnosed, the most common treatment method is surgical intervention. The surgical technique that they will use depends on your specific needs. After surgery, a healing period is typically necessary, during which patients may need to refrain from sexual activity and using tampons.
Diagnosis of such vaginal anomalies is typically achieved through a pelvic examination and imaging tests. When your doctor diagnoses you, you will be recommended a treatment plan according to your specific needs.
Fertility Issues with Vaginal Septum
Many people have an intense desire to have children, but those who have a vaginal septum may experience fertility problems. The presence of this barrier can pose obstacles to successful conception and pregnancy. When the septum blocks the vaginal canal, it can prevent sperm from passing, which makes fertilization more challenging. The uterus’ capacity to support a pregnancy can also be affected, which could raise the chance of miscarriage or gestational problems. Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive approach. Consulting with a gynecologist specializing in reproductive health is the first step to developing a personalized treatment plan. It is also important to remember that fertility outcomes vary depending on individual circumstances. Factors such as the severity of the septum, overall reproductive health, and other underlying health conditions can also influence the chances of conception.
When Should I Contact My Healthcare Provider?
Some women have vaginal blockage naturally but without any symptoms. However, if you struggle with any of the following issues, we urge you to contact your gynecologist as soon as possible:
- Symptoms – If you experience some of the typical signs, like persistent pelvic pain, discomfort during sexual intercourse, and menstrual irregularities, it is essential to reach out to your doctor. They can evaluate all of these, talk about your overall concerns, and recommend appropriate treatment options.
- Planning for pregnancy – Whether you are planning to conceive now or in the future, it is a good idea to schedule a meeting with your gynecologist for guidance on optimizing fertility, discuss potential challenges, and get insights into suitable procedures to enhance your chances of successful conception.
- Pregnancy complications – As mentioned previously, some women can get pregnant even if they have a vaginal septum. In that case, it is crucial to get regularly checked so they can closely monitor your pregnancy, evaluate the impact of the septum on the developing fetus, and provide necessary care to minimize complications during gestation and delivery.
Remember, open communication with your doctor is key throughout your journey with vaginal anomalies.