Parents sometimes note when changing a diaper that their child’s vagina appears to be partially closed, a condition called labial adhesions. This happens when the labia minora partially fuse in the middle. Labial adhesions are not uncommonly found in baby and toddler girls and are not usually cause for concern. They usually form from the side closest to the anus and progress upward toward the abdomen. Rarely do they cover the entire vaginal opening or interfere with urination. Unless there is other diaper irritation, they are not usually uncomfortable or painful.
Labial adhesions are thought to be due to the low estrogen level found in baby girls. In fact, labial adhesions in older girls often resolve spontaneously during puberty as estrogen levels naturally increase. Vaginal irritation is a risk factor for developing adhesions.
Treatment is not necessary if the adhesions are very mild, there is no discomfort or problem voiding if and there is not irritation of the surrounding tissues. A topical estrogen cream is the treatment of choice when indicated. A very thin layer of cream is applied over the adhesion 2-3 times a day for a few weeks. Once the labia separate, it is important to use a topical emollient to the area to prevent recurrence.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, February 2019
- Labial adhesions occur when a baby girl’s labia minora partially fuse.
- Treatment is not always necessary as some resolve on their own.
- Treatment is with an estrogen cream applied two or three times each day for a few weeks.
- Once treatment is complete, keep an emollient such as vitamin A&D ointment on the skin so that the adhesions do not recur.