the

7 Things People Get Wrong About The Hymen

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seven things people get wrong about the

hymen if you have a vagina your

knowledge about the hymen probably

starts and ends with something about

virginity if you have a vagina your

knowledge about the hymen probably

starts and ends with something about

virginity or so the theory goes except

it's not that easy

this thin membrane can tear from so many

other things besides sexual intercourse

some women may even be born without a

hymen in the first place and that

certainly doesn't mean you lost your

virginity before birth because well that

just doesn't make sense because of the

cultural importance placed on a

surprisingly unimportant part of our

Anatomy it's good to have a basic

understanding of what the hymen is and

what it does here are six things you may

not know about your hymen one the hymen

stretches across the vaginas opening but

doesn't cover it completely the hymen is

thin fleshy tissue that stretches across

part of the opening of the vagina Mary

Rosser MD ph.d division director for

general obstetrics and gynecology at

Montefiore a Health System tell self it

doesn't cover it completely otherwise

there wouldn't be a place for menstrual

blood to leave the body - not everyone's

hymen looks the same and some women are

born without one it normally varies in

size shape thickness elasticity and may

even be absent Rosser says though they

come in different shapes and sizes

hymens are usually crescent-shaped when

we're babies the hymen is usually

thicker and it thins over the years with

activities like bicycling horseback

riding or taking gymnastics classes

being born without a hymen won't impact

you or your sexual and reproductive

health at all 3 in fact hymens don't

have a known purpose

just like your appendix and wisdom teeth

the hymen is a vestigial structure

meaning it doesn't really serve a

specific physiological function

evolutionary theory suggests that it

formed to protect the vagina from

bacteria giving animal

with a hymen a reproductive edge but

experts today still aren't really sold

on a reason why they're still around for

some women may have a hymen that needs

to be surgically removed but it's rare

an imperforate hymen is a hymen that

blocks the vaginal opening this is

usually diagnosed in adolescents when

you start menstruating

if period blood has no way to leave the

body it can build up and cause stomach

and back pain and problems going to the

bathroom according to the National

Institutes of Health a minor surgery is

done to remove the excess tissue and

usually a vaginal dilator is used for a

period afterward to make sure the

opening doesn't close back up a young

woman who has this procedure will go on

to have totally normal vaginal function

5 some women feel their hymens break

other times there are zero signs many

people's hymens thin over time and may

eventually tear with zero fanfare for

others the separation or tear may be

more obvious it may be totally

unnoticeable or you may have pain or

bleeding with first tampon insertion or

first intercourse Rosser says you're

more likely to experience an obvious

break if your hymen is thicker or more

rigid and less stretchy 6

honestly yours probably broke before the

first time you had sex if your hymen

thinned over time which many do it may

already be history before your first

sexual encounter activities like biking

horseback riding and gymnastics Plus

using tampons and even masturbating can

help break your hymen Ross or notes and

again it may be completely unnoticeable

when it happens 7 having sexual

intercourse for the first time may hurt

for reasons other than a broken hymen a

minor surgery is done to remove the

excess tissue and usually a vaginal

dilator is used for a period afterward

to make sure the opening doesn't close

back up painful intercourse is fairly

common for women anyway and there are a

handful of health conditions that can

contribute to it 5

some women feel their hymens break other

times there are zero signs as for the

bleeding the hymen isn't always to blame

sex may cause bleeding from the vaginal

wall if there is not adequate

lubrication or if there's fast rough sex

explains Rosser for others the

separation or tear may be more obvious

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