There are quite a few sensitive issues in the world that is surrounded by a lot of myths, stigmas and misbeliefs. Female virginity and hymen are the most divisive topics and often goes hand in hand. What is the role of hymen in defining the virginity?

Female virginity

Virginity has no appropriate medical definition. It is surrounded by beliefs and social norms. To many, losing virginity simply means having sex!

Female virginity traditionally refers to the state of a woman, who did not engage in the vaginal sexual intercourse. Any woman who never had sexual intercourse (penis vaginal intercourse) with a man is tagged ‘virgin!’

Forceful virginity test is an illegal activity. It is an emotional attack a woman’s honor, reputation and respect.

What is hymen?

Hymen is the part of vagina. It is a very thin tissue (like a mucous tissue) that is located inside the vaginal opening. Hymen surrounds or covers the vaginal opening. After puberty, girls produce reproductive hormones, which thicken the hymen. Hymen appears in different colors, shapes, forms and dimensions.  There are a few girls who born without hymen, but it happens rarely.

Hymen and virginity

Female virginity unfortunately is assessed by the state of hymen. When the hymen appears or interpreted to appear intact (without any damage) she passes the virginity test. It is a long term belief that intact hymen indicate that she has not engaged in vaginal intercourse.

So, if the hymen appears like it is broken or torn, she is declared ‘not a virgin’ and attached with a stigma that she involved in sexual relation with a man.

Besides, it is a myth that only vaginal intercourse can broke or tears the hymen. The truth is, hymen breaks under many circumstances. Sexual intercourse (penis-vaginal penetration) is one of the reasons that break the hymen.

  • Hymen can just break like anything without showing any symptoms.
  • Not all girls / women will bleed when hymen broke.
  • Pain experienced by women during the intercourse is not always due to breakage of hymen.
  • Bleeding does not mean it hymen is ruptured.

Causes of hymen rupture

Sexual intercourse for the first time

First time penetration of penis into the vagina may partially or fully destroy the hymen. This is the major reason behind some women experience some kind of discomfort, pain and bleeding during the intercourse. It will heal on its own and it is quite normal.

Strenuous activities

Any kind of strenuous activity can damage this thin membrane.

  • Riding bicycle
  • Climbing a fence, trekking, hiking or any such activity
  • Frequent / regular involvement in sports / athletic activities (even playing any sport activities once may rupture the hymen)

Introduction of medical instruments

Insertion of medical instruments like speculum or during gynecological examination may also rupture the hymen.

Accident and injury

Any accident or injury like falling astride or tripping while trying to climb

How to restore hymen

There are two ways restore the damaged hymen.

  1. Hymen reconstruction surgery – Hymenoplasty

It is a straight forward surgical procedure where the hymenal remnants are reconstructed in the vaginal opening. The remnants of the broken hymen are stitched together. It needs just a couple of stitches at either side. Just like any stitches, it will dissolve in a few days. Hymenoplasty is performed as an outpatient therapy under local anesthesia.

During sexual intercourse, the hymen will tear and it will cause bleeding.

  1. Artificial hymen

Artificial hymen is another procedure that literally releases fake blood during vaginal penetration. When penetrated, it oozes the blood like substance. It is a thin plastic insert and made from non-toxic material, which is completely safe to use. 

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