Labial Adhesions

Also known as: sticking together of labia.

What are labial adhesions?

The labia (two pairs) are the outer lips of the vagina. The labia majora (outer labia) are the thicker fatter folds of skin that cover and protect the inner more delicate parts of the girls external genitalia (labia minora, clitoris, urinary and vaginal orifices).

Ordinarily both pairs of labia are separated from one another. In some young girls however the labia minora stick together (fused labial adhesions). Adhesions are most often seen in girls aged 3 months to 6 years and may be mild (with approximately half of the labia minora length being fused) or severe where most of it is stuck together.

What causes labial adhesions?

The cause of labial adhesion is not entirely clear, however it appears that low levels of estrogen, and chronic irritation (from infection, stool soiling, eczema or dermatitis) may play a role.

What are the symptoms of labial adhesions?

In many cases labial adhesions don't cause any symptoms and are only discovered during normal check-ups. Others times, difficulty urinating, urinary tract infections and vaginal pain can occur.

What are labial adhesion care options?

Treatment varies based on the severity of the adhesion. Adhesions that cause no symptoms may not require treatment, as once girls start puberty and estrogen levels rise, the labia may separate on their own.

Some adhesions can be resolved with ointment and gentle separation a couple times a day for a few weeks. In severe cases, an estrogen cream is used to help the labia separate, or manual breaking of the adhesions (usually under local anesthetic) may be required.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: February 02, 2021 02:21 PM

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