How are labial adhesions treated?

If there are no symptoms and no problems urinating, the doctor might want to wait for the girl to reach puberty and start to produce estrogen.

Topical treatments

If the adhesions cover a large area, or are causing problems, you might be told to apply cream containing estrogen for about a month. It is important to apply the cream in the right amounts. Side effects of treatment could include bleeding, breasts starting to grow, and irritation. These things generally disappear when the cream is stopped. If the cream works to separate the lips, you might be told to apply petroleum jelly or some other ointment for another period of time.

Another type of cream used is the steroid, betamethasone 0.5%. Your doctor might suggest this in addition to estrogen, or in place of estrogen. Betamethasone use should be limited to a certain period of time, such as 3 months.

Manual or surgical separation

If creams do not work, it is usually because the adhesion is thick. In very few cases, separation might be needed if the adhesions are causing problems, such as blocking urine or causing many infections. Only doctors who are experienced should do a manual separation. The procedure calls for local anesthesia and possibly sedation. Surgical separation generally is only needed if the girl cannot urinate or if other treatments do not work. Surgery is also suggested for the rare labial adhesion that occurs after a pregnancy.

All treatments for labial adhesions should be followed up with good hygiene practices, such as daily baths with non-irritating cleaners. It is a good idea to use a bland lubricant like petroleum jelly for about 6 to 12 months after treatment.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/02/2017.


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