InspirationMaternal Health

Ruth Matete: up close and personal with an imperforate hymen

Ruth Matete looks deep into the eyes of her three weeks old daughter as if responding to their first face to face communique. After nine enervating months of Toluwa being faceless and mute, Ruth cannot get enough of baby Toluwa. From her miraculous conception to her triumphant delivery after preeclampsia, baby Toluwa is indeed a permanent reminder of the faithfulness of God and evidence of answered prayers.

Photo courtesy of Ruth Matete

At 14, Ruth had started her periods without her knowledge.

I remember the hospital visit that night. I was in some much pain in my abdomen. The doctor examined me and said I had something in my uterus and that that thing had been there for about three months. You can imagine the shock amidst pain.


Are you pregnant? Asked the good doctor

No! I am not pregnant as a matter of fact; I have never had sex. Replied Ruth

Upon a physical examination, the doctor said that he had his fears but needed to confirm through a pelvic ultrasound. Results confirmed Ruth had an imperforated hymen no wonder she had a mass in the lower part of her belly and excruciating stomach and back pain.

For starters, most females are born with a thin membrane that stretches across the vagina called the hymen. This hymen has a small opening that allows for access to the vagina. In the case of an imperforate hymen, this membrane does not have an opening so it blocks the vaginal canal. 1 in every 1,000 females is born with this condition.

 The failure of the hymen to open during a baby’s growth and development inside her mother’s uterus causes an imperforate hymen. Reproductive health experts, however, do not know why exactly it occurs except, it can sometimes run in families.

Some cases of an imperforate hymen are detected early in a newborn who has a bulge in the hymeneal membrane. In an older girl, however, a complete imperforation blocks menstrual flow, causing abdominal pain. It may also cause the absence of menstrual periods, fullness in the lower abdomen, difficulty urinating, or having a bowel movement and back pain.

Until they begin menstruating and experience complications due to blood pooling in the vagina, a multitude of girls will not even know they have an imperforate hymen. In most cases, the ensued pain will take them to the doctor as it happened to Ruth.

I went in for an emergency hymenotomy that night. They drained a large quantity of menstrual blood from the vagina and uterus. It was so painful healing from the surgery as well as going for wound dressing every three days. 


The vast majority of women will have a normal sex life and no related fertility problems after the surgery. If not detected early and treated, however, an imperforate hymen can lead to a vaginal infection, kidney issues, and endometriosis, which reduces fertility.

Before leaving the hospital, the doctor dropped a bombshell. He informed me that my uterus had been messed up by the blood therefore, the chance of conceiving later in life was slim. 

When you meet someone you love you tend to be honest with them. I vividly remember sharing with some guy that I dated about this experience and the likelihood of not being able to conceive and that’s how the relationship died a natural death.

Ruth and her late husband

I met my late husband and just like I did with other guys, I shared this experience and what the doctor had told me. He just asked me one question. “Do you want children of your own?”

I said an affirmative yes!

He then told me to tell God and believe that I will have children. By him not seeing it as a big deal melted my heart. I knew for sure that was the man that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

After dating for a few years, we got married and conceived a few months later. God did give me a child of my own. I had asked God for six children and even though my husband rested, I am still grateful for answering my prayers the way He did.

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