Labial Adhesions in Baby Girls

Written by Mandy on August 13th, 2012

Activism, Holistic Health, Intactivism
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A silent moment in black and white

When our first child was born, I was an informed parent. There was no way I was letting any doctor (or anyone else) retract his perfect, intact penis. At birth, and for quite a while after (sometimes until puberty), the foreskin is adhered to the glans of the penis. This is a way for the body to protect itself, and the foreskin should not be forcably retracted. I knew that many doctors are still unaware about how to handle intact penises, and I was prepared to protect my child.

However, throughout my life and three children, I had not heard about labial adhesions. It was during my fourth pregnancy that I finally read about labial adhesions in baby girls. Just as the foreskin is adhered to the glans in little boys, there are times when the inner labia of baby girls adheres, blocking the opening to the vagina, either partially or completely. One would think that in a country where intact girls are the norm, doctors would know how to handle something like this. However, I began to read stories about doctors recommending gentle pressure against the adhesion, using Q-Tips, vaseline (petroleum) products, and even the use of estrogen creams on baby girls. Usually, as this generally reoccurs in girls who have labial adhesions which are forcibly separated, the estrogen use became cyclical until puberty. I was appalled.

So, I dug further. I couldn’t believe that something that is apparently quite common in girls and seemed to correspond with a similar phenomenon in intact boys, did not serve some purpose. Surface reading will tell you that labial adhesions occur in relation to some type of irritation. Digging deeper in the medical journals I discovered that, just as with boys, separating labial adhesions is not a recommended treatment. The use of estrogen cream is not recommended. Placing petroleum products on an infant’s genitals is not recommended. The general consensus of those who have conducted research on this subject is that labial adhesions in little girls are a naturally occurring phenomenon, generally in relation to some irritant as the body’s way to protect itself. Parents should keep an eye on it and gently wipe well at diaper changes, but otherwise it should be left alone unless there is a problem.

Relieved to know that my gut instinct was right, I happily went on with my pregnancy and later gave birth to our fourth child, our second daughter. Fast forward about 3-4 months, and I noticed a labial adhesion. Glad that I had read about these before her birth, I kept an eye on it and continued to do so as the labial adhesion increased in size. While I now knew labial adhesions were perfectly normal, I was a bit nervous about the fact that it continued to grow longer. I also couldn’t determine what the irritant might be. We used gentle products, avoided soaps, didn’t give her bubble baths, and changed her diaper immediately after she voided. So, I hit the research again.

That was when I came across some more research that linked labial adhesions with food allergies. Everything clicked into place. We were (and are) in the midst of dealing with allergies – including a lot of food allergies – in our family. Our youngest child had the most immediate and observable reactions to various foods. It made sense that her body was protecting itself. So, we continued to take a wait and see approach.

The adhesions continued, stopping when they reached a certain point, and stayed for a while. I continued keeping an eye on it during diaper changes. Then, one day as I was folding laundry and she was having some naked time (a joke to anyone who knows this child and how she can strip off all clothes and diaper in about half a second), I glanced over to check on her and saw that she was doing some self-exploration, and that the labial adhesion was gone. It had served as protection for as long as she needed it and gone away when it was no longer needed. We didn’t try to force it to open, causing trauma, and so the labial adhesion hasn’t returned.

Our bodies are wondrous. They generally know what to do, if we only listen. Informing ourselves of what is normal (or a variation of normal), and searching out responsible, knowledgeable medical care when there is a true need, allows us to make informed choices for our families.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical advice. Neither the author, nor Natural Parents Network, are medical doctors and do not assume any responsibility for medical decisions made by parents. This article is written for educational purposes only. The author and Natural Parents Network actively encourage all parents to do their own research and make informed choices about their family’s medical care.

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Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with your health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician. Nothing you read here should be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.

About The Author: Mandy

My NPN Posts

Mandy O'Brien is an unschooling mom of five. She's an avid reader and self-proclaimed research fanatic. An active advocate of human rights, Mandy works to provide community programs through volunteer work. She is a co-author of the book Homemade Cleaners, where simple living and green cleaning meet science. She shares a glimpse into her life at Living Peacefully with Children, where she writes about various natural parenting subjects and is working to help parents identify with and normalize attachment parenting through Attachment Parents Get Real.

35 Responses to Labial Adhesions in Baby Girls

  1. Sierra Summerville

    I should add that we also had our baby tested for food sensitivities and have avoided eggs, dairy (specifically the casein protein), and peanuts. The Premarin helped to unfuse her vaginal opening but we maintain those food restrictions. She has a little eczema too. So far so good. I try to cover her in coconut oil after most baths. Also use very gentle soap if any, and no soap on her vag.

  2. eve

    references?

    research on allergy + adhesion connection?

  3. Mona

    I used flaxseed oil and gave some massage there . Surprisingly in 4 week I saw a pin hole opened …. Now it’s 1 inch opened … Never give up cuz she had terrible diaper rash now she’s doing well ….and she get sick raising her temperature cuz of uti ….. Now she’s good happy …. Happy for her ….

  4. Jaquee

    I noticed my daughters adhesion (she is 4 months) and went to the doctor right away. I felt like a terrible mom because in our pediatricians’ little handbook (they make one and give to each new mom, it was like my bible for a while! It has all info on caring for a baby you would need to know!) it says to separate the labia frequently as it can grow together if it stays in contact for many weeks. I thought I had been doing that ok, but I honestly didn’t like messing with her little lady parts so much as I was afraid of hurting her or irritating it! Now I wish I had been more vigilant! Anyway, our doctor said it is nothing to worry about and is normal and common (though no one I know has heard of it!) and that it will go away with puberty when estrogen starts to activate in her body. She says if it causes multiple UTI problems that is when they prescribe the hormone cream. And she says she has nobody on the cream that goes to that office at the moment! (LOVE our pediatrician!) After reading this though I am wondering if she has some kind of allergy too! I noticed at 2 months her diapers started to smell really acidic and vinegary, but the doctor says its nothing to worry about. Now I am wondering if that irritated it and caused the adhesion! She is urinating fine and now I am putting aquaphor on her at each diaper change too so it doesn’t get worse. My husband says not to worry about it especially since the doctor isn’t worried and it will eventually go away, but I cant help but be bugged about it. Is that dumb? Is there anything else I should be doing?! Thanks for this, it was a good read with great info!

    • Mandy

      It can be distressing, but it sounds like you have a fantastic doctor on your side.

      I originally wrote about this after dealing with labial adhesions with one of my older children, but my now 13 month old also has labial adhesions. She has food allergies, too. We have been pretty careful about the foods that we know the rest of the family is allergic to, but she has gotten some bites here and there. The foods definitely caused problems for her in other ways. We have been having more naked time for her recently, and I know that as long as she isn’t having any problems, the labial adhesions themselves are just her body protecting itself.

  5. Marcie

    Thank you for this post! I have three children and my youngest had a LA. It really scared me and I was surprised that I didn’t notice it until the doctor pointed it out at her 9month visit. I had never heard of a LA. I asked a few of my friends and they had never heard of it either. I did not use the estrogen cream. I freaked out when I read the side effects. I used only Flax Oil once a day and it cleared up in less then two weeks! She has very sensitive skin and she didn’t have any irritation form the Flax Oil. If anything I think it helped with redness and over all diaper issues. I’m not sure if it matters but I got my Flax Oil from an Earth Store, and it was refrigerated. I hope this helps any other moms who are looking for another way then the estrogen cream.

  6. chris

    My older daughter had it bad and hers had to be seprated, merely because the adhesion had gone as far as over her urethra and she could not pee, it involved both the inner and outer labia in her case

  7. jav

    What a nice article. I was sooo such worried abt my 8 months old adhesions n now it getting better by itself n I got scared even more .. Thanks for the article

  8. Karen

    My daughter is 2 and we noticed the labia closing about 6 months ago. We were given the cream but our problem is getting her to let us put it on. She does not want me to do this. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to get her more cooperative with even cleaning the area as well as ointments/creams? Thank you so much!!

  9. Ray Nara

    Thank you for this article. 18th month daughter has an adhesion that was discovered during her 18th month check up. It was open before and the only thing I can think of is she had a bad reaction to diluted orange juice that I gave her while she was sick. I was trying to keep her hydrated, but t just gave her loose stools and a rash. I also refused Premarin and steroids, but was advised to put Aquafor or Vaseline on it. I don’t think she would let me do it if I wanted especially after the doctor took a while examining her today. I still feel guilty about giving her orange juice, but I feel better knowing that it usually resolves itself.