After giving birth to four sons, I thought I had experienced and dealt with almost every aspect of infant medical concerns. But it was not until I gave birth to my daughter that I found an issue I’d never covered, a labial adhesion.
Labial adhesions are quite common in infant girls and young girls up to the age of 6. A labial adhesion occurs when the inner lips of the female vagina, known as the labia minora, become stuck together, or fused. It is believed that 2 percent of females up to the age of 6 experience labial adhesions.
Some baby girls seem more prone to getting a labial adhesion than others. Some feel that it can result from irritation in the diaper area, caused by wetness and soiled diapers, or even laundry products, soap and detergents could be the culprit. The adhesion aspect seems to take place as the diaper area is healing, causing the vaginal lips to become fused together. It can vary in intensity, resulting in just a small area being closed off, or a larger area. Most of the time, labial adhesions are not serious, unless they interfere with the proper passing of urine in cases where the urethral opening is covered. If this is the case, see your doctor immediately.
The hormone estrogen is also believed to play a part in the development of labial adhesions. Estrogen affects the skin cells of the labia. Labial adhesions usually develop at around 3 months of age, right around the time when the baby’s body is losing the estrogen she received from her mother at birth. This was right around the time I noticed this occurring with my daughter when she was an infant.
In most cases, nothing needs to be done, and it will correct itself on its own. Do NOT ever attempt to pull the skin apart, as this can cause pain and complications.If you are concerned about this with your baby girl, talk to your pediatrician. A prescription estrogen cream can be used to treat labial adhesions. You simply apply the cream with a cotton swab along the fused area, taking care not to get the cream elsewhere on the genitals, as it is a hormone. Usually, within about two weeks time, the adhesion will unseal. This is what my daughter’s pediatrician prescribed for my daughter, and it worked quickly. It may help to apply a petroleum jelly lubricant cream to the area that was sealed, to possibly prevent a reoccurrence. Take special care to keep the diaper area clean and dry. I also avoided using scented baby wipes after my daughter dealt with this issue.
Labial adhesions can actually come and go throughout the childhood years and should disappear with the onset of puberty. From personal experience with my own baby girl, I know they can be alarming to the mom, but keep in mind they are quite common and almost never serious. Just another one of those “girl things.” For more information about labial adhesions, please visit www.babycenter.com .