Hymenal Tag

A hymenal tag is extra tissue from the hymen that forms into a skin tag. It can cause minor irritation or pain during sex and when using a tampon. Healthcare providers can treat or remove hymenal skin tags.


What is a hymenal tag?

A hymenal tag is extra tissue that protrudes from the edge of your hymen. Hymenal tags can be present at birth, or they can appear later in life after your hymen breaks or after vaginal childbirth. Your hymen is a thin piece of tissue that covers part of the opening to your vagina. It stretches and wears down over time to the point of breaking or tearing. Activities like gymnastics, exercise or using tampons can cause your hymen to wear and eventually rupture.

Hymenal skin tags appear around your vaginal opening and are usually less than 5 millimeters wide. They typically do not cause health problems, but they can cause discomfort. In some cases, your healthcare provider will recommend removing a hymenal tag.


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Who gets a hymenal tag?

Women and people assigned female at birth born with a hymen can have a hymenal skin tag (most women are born with a hymen). Some people are born with a hymenal skin tag, but in other cases, it grows later in life. Hymenal tags can develop after your hymen breaks and not all of the hymenal tissue recedes into the vagina. The tag is considered leftover remnants of your hymen. If you give birth vaginally, there is a chance you can develop a hymenal skin tag from pushing during labor. Conversely, if you have a hymenal skin tag, it can go away when you give birth vaginally.

Symptoms and Causes

What does a hymenal tag look and feel like?

A hymenal tag appears as a small, flesh-colored piece of skin at the entrance of the vagina. They can appear darker or lighter than the surrounding skin but will usually blend in. A hymenal tag will form at the edge of your hymen and stick out. It's usually very small, so it may be difficult to see.

Some people feel discomfort or irritation from a hymenal tag. This can happen when the skin tag has been rubbing against your underwear or from sex and masturbation. It can also swell or become red.


What causes a hymenal tag?

No one is sure why some people are born with a hymenal tag. There isn't solid evidence as to why hymenal tags occur during fetal development.

Healthcare providers have a better understanding of why hymenal tags develop after your hymen tears. Once your hymen ruptures or breaks (usually in your teen years), tissue can be left behind and form hymenal tags. Your hymen is a thin, flexible membrane that covers part of your vaginal opening. It wears down and eventually breaks with everyday activities like exercise, riding a bike, having sex or using a tampon.

Some women develop hymenal tags after tearing hymenal tissue during vaginal childbirth. Conversely, some women with hymenal tags find that they go away after a vaginal delivery.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a hymenal tag diagnosed?

Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you have a hymenal tag. They can diagnose a hymenal tag with a physical exam of the area. In addition to a visual exam, they may perform a pelvic exam or Pap test to rule out any other conditions. In rare cases, they will order a biopsy. This is when a piece of the tissue is removed and tested for diseases or cancer.


Management and Treatment

Do hymenal skin tags go away?

Yes, some hymenal tags can go away on their own. This is especially the case for hymenal tags that are present at birth. Most hymenal tags resolve by the time you are 3 years old. Do not attempt to pull or cut the tag from your skin if you develop a hymenal tag as a teenager or adult. It's best to be examined by your healthcare provider. They can diagnose the skin tag and discuss if treatment is necessary or if the hymenal tag will resolve on its own.

What treatments are used for a hymenal skin tag?

Treatment depends on how severe your symptoms are. If the area around your vaginal opening swells and causes irritation, it may be best to remove the hymenal skin tag. Your healthcare provider will perform the procedure in their office:

  • First, you'll remove your pants and underwear.
  • Next, you will lay down on an exam table and place your feet in stirrups (similar to when you get a pelvic exam). You're given a drape to place over your knees and legs.
  • Your vaginal area is cleaned with a wipe. Then you're given an injection of anesthesia to numb the area.
  • Your healthcare provider cuts off the hymenal tag with surgical scissors or a scalpel.
  • A substance or pressure is applied to the area to stop the bleeding.
  • The procedure lasts less than 20 minutes.

If your hymenal tags don't cause any issues, you may be able to treat them at home. That treatment could include:

  • Avoiding touching the area. This includes sex, masturbation and other activities.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • Apply cold compresses to the hymenal tissue.

How long does it take to recover from getting a hymenal tag removed?

If you get a hymenal tag removed, you can expect to resume normal activities the same day. You may feel slight discomfort, but it shouldn't prevent you from doing your usual activities. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if you feel any pain and wear a pantyliner to catch any bleeding. Talk to your healthcare provider about any restrictions regarding sexual activity or using a tampon. They may recommend waiting a few days to make sure your skin has healed.

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Can you prevent getting a hymenal tag?

No, there isn't anything you can do to prevent a hymenal skin tag. It's either present at birth or develops when your hymen breaks. There is no way to stop a hymenal skin tag from growing.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Talk to your healthcare provider if you feel irritation, discomfort or pain around your vaginal opening. They will want to examine the area for any signs of problems. If you believe you have a hymenal skin tag, you don't need to suffer. Let your healthcare provider know if you feel any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty or pain inserting a tampon.
  • Pain during sex, especially during penetration.
  • Irritation or swelling around the vaginal opening.
  • Pain when masturbating or wearing underwear.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A hymenal tag is usually not a cause for worry. They can cause swelling and irritation to the vaginal area. Talk to your healthcare provider if you believe you have a hymenal skin tag. They can discuss treatment options with you, including at-home care or removal.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 04/13/2022.

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