Vaginal agenesis - a birth defect
Vaginal agenesis is a congenital (birth) defect that can make it impossible for a woman to have sex and to have a baby. This is a rare disorder, affecting only 1 in 5000 women. Women with this disorder have an undeveloped vagina or shorter vagina or even no vagina at all.
Women with vaginal agenesis also tend to have other health issues such as abnormalities in kidneys, missing kidney or conjoined kidneys. Some women may have a small uterus or no uterus. Very few percentage women with vaginal agenesis have atypical skeletons and/or problems with spine, ribs or limbs.
Vaginal agenesis symptoms
Symptoms of absent or underdeveloped vagina / uterus resemble that of Amenorrhea, another condition where there are no periods even after reaching puberty.
- If the uterus is present, painful amenorrhea may be experienced. If not, there would be no periods any pain.
- If there is no vagina or an underdeveloped vagina but a fully formed uterus, the menstrual blood finds it difficult to get out of the body leading to painful cramping and pain in the abdomen.
Well, vaginal agenesis causes fall into the bucket of ‘unknown’ just like hundreds of other idiopathic conditions. Medical experts believe that this could be a genetic defect or failure of the body in generating organs during the development of the foetus.
Vaginal agenesis diagnosis
Until the girl reaches her puberty, everything can look normal. If you or your loved one didn’t have a period even after reaching the age of 14 or 15 years, let your doctor or parents know. A physical exam followed by imaging of the internal organs will be done to assess the growth of the reproductive organs inside the body.
Treatment of vaginal agenesis
Once diagnosed, the question that arises is, when should the treatment for vaginal agenesis start. That depends on the person, the condition of the organs inside the body and the parents (in case of minors).
A small tube is provided to the person if there is a dimple in the area of the vagina. The tube needs to be pressed against the skin in the area of the vagina for about 20 minutes every day.
Vaginoplasty is a cosmetic gynaecology procedure where the vagina is properly created with a graft of skin or the muscle taken from the inside of cheek or from large bowel.
Skin Graft Method
In this procedure, skin is taken from the buttocks area and a vagina like mould is prepared. A small incision is made between the anus and the urethra (in the place where a vagina should be) and the mould is placed in it. Eventually, the mould sticks to the body to form the vagina. Complete bed rest is recommended during the first 10 days after the procedure. A catheter will be inserted into the urethra to drain the urine during this time.
A dilator needs to be used frequently for a few months after the surgery and less frequently for about 6 months afterwards to prevent the vaginal opening from shrinking. You need to be regularly in touch with your gynaecologist for many months after the surgery.
Bowel Vaginoplasty (Colon Vaginoplasty)
In this procedure, a part of the lower bowel (large intestine) is taken by making an incision in the abdominal area. The colon part is swed in to complete the vaginal canal. A mould is placed at the beginning of the vagina for a few days similar to skin graft method and then taken off. During this period, a catheter is placed in the urethra.