Vaginal Septum

A vaginal septum is when your vagina is split into two parts by a band of tissue. It happens during fetal development and is treatable with surgery. Symptoms of vaginal septum include painful sex, pelvic pain and irregular menstruation.


What is a vaginal septum?

A vaginal septum is when a wall of tissue blocks your vagina, dividing it into two parts. Your vagina is a muscular canal that leads to the entrance of your uterus (called your cervix). Your vaginal canal is where a tampon goes during menstruation and where penetration occurs during sex. A vaginal septum is a vaginal anomaly that happens during fetal development when this canal doesn’t form properly.

A vaginal septum isn’t visible from the outside, so you may not realize you have one until menstruation begins or when you become sexually active.


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What are the types of vaginal septums?

A vaginal septum can be either transverse or longitudinal. The type is based on the direction of the septum.

Transverse vaginal septum

In a transverse vaginal septum, your vagina is divided into top and bottom parts. The tissue runs horizontally across the vaginal canal. A transverse septum can be complete or perforated (also called partial).

  • A complete transverse septum means the tissue blocks the entire vagina. The blockage prevents blood from flowing out of the vagina during your menstrual period. This can cause blood to back up into the upper vagina or uterus and cause pain or swelling.
  • A perforated transverse septum has a small hole or opening that allows menstrual blood to pass through. The tissue only partially blocks the vagina. You may have a menstrual period, but it lasts longer due to blood flowing slowly out of the small opening.

Longitudinal vaginal septum

In this type of septum, your vagina is split into two separate cavities. It’s sometimes called a double vagina because it creates two distinct canals with a band of tissue running down the middle (from top to bottom). Menstrual blood can exit your vagina, but it may be difficult to use a tampon because you have two canals. For example, you may insert a tampon but still be leaking blood (because it’s only in one cavity). A longitudinal vaginal septum is also called a vertical vaginal septum.

Most people with this type of vaginal septum also have a congenital disorder of their uterus and cervix such as a didelphic uterus (having two uteruses and cervixes).

Is a vaginal septum rare?

Vaginal septums are rare. They occur in less than .03% of infants.


Can you have a baby with a vaginal septum?

Yes, you can still have a baby, but it’s safer to fix the septum first. Surgery involves removing the tissue that’s causing the separation. This significantly reduces complications associated with conception, pregnancy and delivery.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of a vaginal septum?

Some people don’t realize they have a vaginal septum until their healthcare provider finds it during a pelvic exam. Most symptoms don’t begin until a person gets their period or becomes sexually active.

Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Amenorrhea (no menstrual period).
  • Long menstrual periods (lasting longer than seven days).
  • Abdominal and pelvic pain (from blood collecting in their upper vagina or uterus).
  • Being unable to use a tampon (blood still comes out despite having one in place).
  • Pain when inserting or removing a tampon (their vaginal canal is too small or an odd shape).
  • Pain and discomfort during sex.
  • Difficulty conceiving.


What causes a vaginal septum?

A vaginal septum is a congenital disorder, which means it’s something you’re born with. Your vagina begins to form around six weeks in to fetal development. Two tubes (called Müllerian ducts) come together (or fuse) to create one vaginal canal. In the case of a vaginal septum, the two tubes don’t fuse. It’s unknown why this happens, and there aren’t any risk factors.

What complications are associated with a vaginal septum?

There are a few conditions associated with a vaginal septum. You’re more likely to have:

Diagnosis and Tests

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider typically diagnoses a vaginal septum during a pelvic exam. They may order additional imaging tests like a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound to get a closer look at the tissue causing the blockage. Imaging tests can also confirm the type of septum you have and help identify other duplications in your reproductive tract (such as two uteruses).

Management and Treatment

How do you fix a vaginal septum?

You may not need treatment for a vaginal septum if it’s not causing any symptoms or affecting fertility. Your healthcare provider can discuss treatment with you, but in most cases, getting the septum surgically removed is the best option. This prevents complications during pregnancy and childbirth if you wish to have children in the future. There are instances when the septum tears naturally during sexual activity, and then, surgery isn’t needed.

Surgery for vaginal septum

Surgical treatment for a septum involves removing the wall of tissue that’s causing the blockage. This creates one vaginal canal. During the surgery, your surgeon will drain any blood trapped inside your vagina. The procedure takes a few hours and is done in a hospital. You’re given general anesthesia, so you don’t feel any pain.

Surgery to correct a vaginal septum:

  • Improves menstrual flow during your period.
  • Helps you get a menstrual period (if you weren’t previously).
  • Reduces complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Improves your chances of conceiving.
  • Helps with pain or discomfort during intercourse.
  • Allows you to use a tampon normally during menstruation.

Can vaginal septum grow back?

No, a vaginal septum can’t grow back because it’s a process that occurs during fetal development. You can’t regrow a vaginal septum.

Care at Cleveland Clinic

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have a vaginal septum?

Some people with a vaginal septum don’t have symptoms or health concerns. They may live their entire life with a septum and not seek treatment. However, some people with a vaginal septum have painful symptoms, issues with menstruation or difficulty getting pregnant. In this case, treatment is necessary.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain during sex.
  • Painful menstruation.
  • Being unable to use tampons.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Contact your healthcare provider if you believe you have a vaginal septum. But not everyone feels pain, so you may not even know you have one. Your healthcare provider can diagnose a vaginal septum by using imaging like MRI or ultrasound and performing a pelvic exam. They can discuss treatment options with you, as well as the risks of not getting treatment. A vaginal septum can be fixed with surgery.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 01/13/2023.

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