How can I tell if I have a septate hymen?

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female gender symbolI think I may have a septate hymen, but I’m not sure. How can I tell for sure without going to a doctor? I don’t want to make an appointment if nothing is wrong.

The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to a women’s vagina. A normal hymen has a small hole within the center. A “septate” hymen means there is extra hymeneal tissue (more hymen than usual) that looks like a band in the middle. Instead of one small opening in the center, there are two. A young woman with a septate hymen may have trouble inserting a tampon or have difficulty removing it once it is filled with blood. Sometimes a girl has no problem because one or both openings are large enough for tampons.

If a young woman wants to use tampons and/or have vaginal intercourse, she should talk to her health care provider about having a simple surgical procedure. If a young woman tries to push a tampon into the vagina or has intercourse before having a procedure to remove the extra tissue, the septate hymen may tear, causing pain and bleeding.

Not all girls who have trouble inserting a tampon have an abnormal hymen, though. Learning how to insert a tampon takes time and practice. If you’re concerned, you should make an appointment with your health care provider. It’s better to ask questions and find out what’s going on with your body than be worried. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to get checked out even if everything is okay!