Significance of topical estrogens to labial fusion and vaginal introital integrity

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2006 Oct;19(5):337-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2006.06.004.


Purpose: One theory for labial fusion is low prepubertal estrogen levels. Topical estrogens remains the mainstay of therapy. Some patients require surgical lysis of the adhesion. Estrogen's action in regard to collagen may influence recurrent adhesions and adhesions that form after manual disruption or surgical separation. This study assesses the efficacy of topical estrogen to separate the labia, recurrence, and estrogen related side effects. Estrogens may have a role in vaginal healing in genital surgery.

Materials and methods: Retrospective chart review of 109 girls from 3 months to 10 years old (mean 44 months) who had labial fusion. Data was collected on the length of topical estrogen treatment, rate of successful separation, rate of recurrence, percentage requiring surgery, and post-operative outcomes.

Results: Mean length of topical estrogen treatment was 3.7 months (range 0 to 36 months), with separation in 79% (85/107) of patients. Forty-one percent (44/107) had recurrence of labial fusion one to five times (range 2 to 72 months). Surgery was required in 21% (22/107). Ten percent of patients (2/21) had recurrence of labial fusion post-operatively (age 6,10 years, at 1, 18 month post-operatively). Neither of these two patients was responsive to topical estrogen cream post-operatively and required a second surgical separation. Side effects of estrogen were minimal breast development in 6 children and vaginal bleeding in one child. Discontinuance resulted in resolution of side effects.

Conclusion: Topical estrogens were effective treatment for labial fusion. After surgical separation of adhesions there was a 10% recurrence rate. Estrogen therapy initiated after surgical failure was unsuccessful.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tissue Adhesions / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagina / drug effects*
  • Vulva / abnormalities*
  • Vulva / drug effects
  • Vulvar Diseases / congenital
  • Vulvar Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Estrogens