Cribriform Hymen

A cribriform hymen is a rare condition in which a girl’s hymen, the thin membrane across the opening of her vagina, has many small holes in it.  

This type of hymen typically lets menstrual and other fluids out but may cause problems with tampon use, pelvic examination and, later in life, sexual activity.

Patients can be seen by Texas Children's experts in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Causes & Risk Factors

A cribriform hymen is a congenital disorder, meaning it is present at birth. It occurs when the hymen doesn’t develop properly in the fetus.

The cause of this abnormal development is not yet known. 

Symptoms & Types

There may be no symptoms until a girl reaches puberty and begins having difficulty with her periods or the use of tampons or when she becomes sexually active and has difficulty during intercourse.

Symptoms may include:

  • Periods that last longer than the normal 4 to 7 days
  • Difficulty or pain inserting or removing a tampon
  • Inability to insert a tampon
  • Abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse 

Diagnosis & Tests

A cribriform hymen is typically diagnosed during examination of a newborn baby or at puberty if it causes problems with a girl’s periods.

Diagnosis can be made through a pelvic exam.

Treatment & Care

Treatment may not be necessary unless the condition interferes with tampon use, emptying of menstrual flow or vaginal discharge, sexual activity, or Pap testing.

In some cases a cribriform hymen resolves on its own as the girl grows older, or tears away when a tampon is inserted or during sexual intercourse.

When necessary, minor surgery is performed to remove the extra hymenal tissue and create a normal-sized vaginal opening.