Children's Hospital Colorado
Gynecology

Imperforate Hymen

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What is an imperforate hymen?

A thin membrane called the hymen normally surrounds the opening of the vagina with a small, circular opening in the center. In the case of a completely imperforate hymen, this membrane does not have an opening, so it blocks the vaginal canal. "Imperforate" means lacking the normal opening.

If the hymen is only partially imperforate, there is a small opening to the vagina, but extra tissue prevents the vagina from being completely open. Imperforate hymens can vary in the amount of obstruction.

Drawing shows the different types of hymens that may occur as a result of the imperforate hymen condition.

What causes an imperforate hymen?

An imperforate hymen is caused by failure of the hymen to perforate (open) during a baby's growth and development inside her mother's uterus.

Who gets an imperforate hymen?

An imperforate hymen is a condition that girls are born with. It generally affects 1 to 2% of all girls. Nobody knows why it occurs.

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