I was thirteen, studying in class eight when one day I felt a sudden sharp shooting pain in my abdomen. My mother thought that I must be nearing my first period since I had already matured physically. She gave me paracetamol to curb the pain and explained to me about periods. Yes, I already knew about it from friends. But I had never anticipated such pain. The pain subsided after a few days but no sign of any blood or periods. Over the days I developed severe constipation and was unable to pass bowel movements. I visited various doctors with my parents but no one could figure out the reason for the pain or constipation and usually sent me back with a painkiller injection or a laxative. Once I was even subjected to enema. Those who have undergone one will know how traumatic an enema procedure can be for a thirteen-year-old.
Many doctor visits and various tests later, the pain was still there but no solution at sight. This went on for weeks when suddenly one day the pain felt unbearable and I also noticed a lump on the left side of my abdomen and rushed to inform my parents. Worried sick, they again started a round of doctors who suggested I undergo an ultrasound scan to figure out the lump. On seeing the report, the doctor suggested meeting a Gynecologist. I will never forget her for saving my life. One look at the report and she requested to examine my private parts. Young as I was, she told me not to worry and be calm as she examined my vagina. She knew immediately what was wrong. An imperforate hymen!
Finally, A Diagnosis!
Hematocolpos is ‘an accumulation of blood within the vagina’. It is often caused by the combination of menstruation with an imperforate hymen. An imperforate hymen is a medical condition where the girls are born with a hymen which covers the whole opening of the vagina. An imperforate hymen may be diagnosed at any age. However, when a girl hits puberty, this type of hymen blocks the blood from flowing out and the blood pools in the vagina. This condition is called Hematocolpos. The blood which had backed up in the vagina had caused the pain and put pressure on the bowels causing constipation. Any further delay would have caused the blood to become toxic in my body causing further complications. A small surgery she said, would correct the hematocolpos. Was I relieved?! While my parents worried about the word surgery, the inner me was just relieved and happy to have got a diagnosis finally. No more excruciating pain.
A hymenotomy was performed under general anesthesia and an incision was made in the hymen and the accumulated blood was drained, all of which was explained to me and my parents. After two days of hospitalization, I was discharged. It’s been 24 years since then. While every girl has an unforgettable story about the day they got their periods, mine probably tops them all.
The author, Tasneem is a writer at Infano. This is her true life experience.