The answers to all your questions about virginity and its mythical guardian, the hymen.

Oct 31, 2016

What is a virgin? words is generally construed to refer to someone who’s never had sex, however that pipeline a many room for interpretation. Does oral sex count? If a mrs only has sex with other women, is she a virgin? A woman who has only knowledgeable forcible intercourse or rape is considered in some societies to have actually “lost she virginity,” as if she to be somehow in ~ fault—which is fully unfair, sexist, and also wrong! It might be valuable to remember that there deserve to be a first time for many sexual activities, from an initial kiss to first genital touch to first orgasm, fairly than to focus on virginity status.

Which brings united state to the hymen. It’s obtained a lot of attention transparent history, however many people couldn’t define or describe it, and many illustrations of female anatomy leave it out altogether. Some world think the hymen blocks entry into the vagina. In reality, for almost all women who’ve gone with puberty, the hymen is a an extremely stretchy thin ring that vaginal tissue at the opening of the vagina the doesn’t block anything in ~ all. The best way to think that the average hymen is that it’s prefer a scrunchie (the hair thingy).

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Here are few of the myths i have heard most around the hymen and its connection to virginity.

Myth 1: The hymen have to be broken the first time you have sex.

The greatest myth around the hymen is that it breaks when a woman very first has intercourse, and also that this outcomes in bleeding that renders it clean whether she was a virgin. In the past, some cultures have made an problem or also a routine of evaluating or displaying bloody sheets from a wedding bed to show that the young woman was a virgin. Of course the husband wasn’t meant to be a virgin or to prove his sex-related purity.

In reality, countless women carry out not endure tearing or bleeding that the hymen the first time they have sex. That’s since the hymen is stretchy, choose the scrunchie.


One harmful an outcome of this myth is that it makes some ladies worry about pain and bleeding the first time they have sex, which have the right to make it harder to gain turned on. Once a woman is aroused, the muscles close to the opening of the vagina can be relaxed, and also the vagina creates natural lubrication so that sex is an ext comfortable—even if it’s the first time. Worrying around pain have the right to lead to tightening of the muscles and less lubrication, which have the right to lead come pain or bleeding.

Myth 2: A Gyno have the right to tell native looking at the hymen if a mrs is a virgin.

Another typical myth is that a health treatment professional deserve to tell whether or no a mrs has ever before had intercourse by assessing her hymen. In fact, after ~ puberty, in the lack of injuries that could rarely occur from rape, a physician CANNOT TELL! The hymen is very stretchy and, for the vast majority of women, is open like a donut. Think again of the scrunchie.

Myth 3: utilizing tampons affects virginity.

If virginity has to do with first sexual experiences, making use of tampons absolutely doesn’t count. What can occasionally affect use of tampons room some organic but fairly rare variations of the anatomy of the hymen. One variation is a thin band across the opening referred to as a septate hymen. An additional is a very tiny opening called a microperforate hymen. For about 1 in 2,000 girls, the hymen has actually no opening, which is dubbed an imperforate hymen. This results in significant monthly pain arising after the time of the expected an initial menstrual duration (around age 12 come 12 ½ top top average) and no expression bleeding. What if we empowered girl to take it a look with a mirror? the an especially good idea come look with a winter if or once deciding to try tampons—and if concerns come up, a health care provider deserve to answer them!

Myth 4: A gynecological exam affects virginity.

Like tampons, gynecological exams room all about health, no sex. Inspection of the external genitals (just looking) is encourage by the American Academy the Pediatrics together a routine component of health care for kids and also teens. The Pap test, an test to finding precancerous cell from the cervix, generally involves the usage of an instrument referred to as a speculum to spread the wall surfaces of the stretchy hymen and also vagina and is generally recommended beginning at period 21. A speculum exam might be needed prior to the period of 21 if there are certain symptoms or problems.

Myth 5: A sex-related partner can tell if a woman is a virgin.

See myth 2. If an proficient gynecologist can not tell if a mrs has had actually intercourse, then exactly how on planet can a partner? ~ above the various other hand, being open up with her partner(s) about your sexual background can construct trust and also keep you both healthy and happy.

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The word hymen originates from the Greek word for membrane or skin. Hymen was also the surname of the Greek god that marriage. While ancient myths have the potential to notify us, in this situation it’s time to obtain informed about anatomy and take a an ext enlightened see of sexual relationships. Stop discard the myths about the hymen and virginity and the outdated ideas around female sexuality the go in addition to them.

Written byPaula J. Adams Hillard, MD

Paula Hillard, MD, is Professor the Obstetrics and also Gynecology at Stanford University school of medication in California, whereby she teaches and also has a clinical exercise of pediatric and also adolescent gynecology. She bikes to work and enjoys the fruits and veggies her husband grows in your yard. Once she’s not professing, she enjoys being v her family, consisting of her adult kids and also precocious grand-daughter, and reading, writing, editing, walking, baking, and singing.