Demystifying medicine presents: Busting sexual health myths
What… is a hymen?
It is commonly believed that there is a membrane that fully covers the vagina called a hymen.
It is said to have been named after the Greek God of marriage “Hymenaios” leading to
its association with virginity.
While the ancient greeks haven’t been around for quite some time, many people still believe
that a hymen is a symbol of a woman’s chastity.
As a supposed membrane fully covering the vagina in every woman, many think that the
first time a woman engages in sexual intercourse, it is punctured, leading to bleeding and pain.
However, this is incorrect because that isn’t how the hymen works!
These beliefs about the hymen spreads misinformation and can lead to unwarranted anxiety about
In order to understand why these misconceptions about the hymen are false, we need to talk
about the actual structure of the hymen.
The adult hymen is described as a thin fold of mucous membrane situated just inside the
It is rarely fully closed, instead it goes around the vagina and has one or more openings
which can range from the size of the pinpoint to being able to accommodate one or two fingers.
That is why it is still possible to menstruate and use tampons despite having an “intact”
It is not a full covering of the vaginal opening.
The shape and size of the hymen also vary drastically from person to person.
For example, the shape of the hymen can range from a ring to a semilunar fold, and can even
be absent in some individuals.
Since the hymen is so individualized, it really makes no sense for it to be a universal “virginity
Also some of the hymenal tissue can be worn away through everyday activities such as sports
or washing at no injury to the individual.
When it is damaged, it is unlikely to bleed or be painful as the hymen itself has almost
no blood vessels or nerves running through it.
This makes it clear that the hymen is not an accurate method in determining virginity
and should not be used as such.
Damaging the hymen, through sex or otherwise, should also not be bloody or painful.
Many people still fear pain or bleeding upon penetration, however for the majority of individuals,
as long as you are safe and comfortable with the situation there should be nothing to fear.
Now that you know more about the hymen and the facts surrounding this mysterious structure,
we hope that it can help you make safe and educated decisions regarding your body.
If you want to learn more about this topic, check out the links in the description box
for more information!
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