There are still many people in the world holding a false belief in the bodily tissue known as “the hymen”. This is the belief that a woman's virginity can be determined by whether the membrane covering her genitals is torn or not. Despite the fact that popular beliefs about the so called “virginal membrane” were proven anatomically false 100 years ago, this misunderstanding is still widely spread and adversely affecting the lives of women. If you are a well-informed person who benefits from modern medicine, you should make efforts to end this old misunderstanding within our generation.
“The ‘Fraud’ of the Hymen”
✔️ Virginal Membrane or Hymen
The mucosal tissue forms thin wrinkles which can be seen 1-2 cm inside from the vaginal opening. Rather than being a thin membrane, it has a more similar appearance to a rubber band or a hair tie. Society has long considered this part of the body as a marker of purity and innocence but the hymen has zero association with virginity (no relation to experiencing intercourse) and contradicts the general perception of a blocked membrane.
It was incorrectly labeled and named, which further encouraged the misconception of this body part. In recent years, the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education has suggested a new name, the vaginal corona. In Korean society it is commonly known as the “virginal membrane”, but for this article we will mostly be using the word “hymen”.
✔️ An Old Lie
Many cultures have used the hymen as an indicator of virginity for centuries.
The following are the three most common misconceptions about the hymen.
- The hymen completely seals the vagina. Thus, if you are a virgin with no experience in sex, you cannot use insertable menstrual products such as tampons or menstrual cups.
- There is always bleeding when the hymen tears. When there is no bleeding during vaginal penetration it means it is not your first time.
- The hymen is gone completely once it is torn. You can know if someone is a virgin by checking their hymen.
✔️ The Truths
The truths about the hymen uncovered by scientists indicate that the widespread social conventions are all incorrect.
According to anatomical research, the incorrect information must be corrected as follows.
- The hymen is not completely sealed
Many people may think of the hymen as a plastic wrap seal with a “cannot return after opening” sticker on it, but in reality, the hymen does not completely seal the vagina. Most are in the form of a donut with a hole in the middle or similar to a scrunchie. Just as the eyes and noses of people are distinctive, the shape of the hymen is also different. Some have a large opening and some have numerous small openings.
- There can be no bleeding when the hymen is ruptured
Figuring out the exact shape of the hymen can help to understand this proposition. This body part has an opening like a scrunchie and one may be able to insert tampons, menstrual cups, and a penis into the vagina with no damage (or only minor damage). It is flexible and elastic and there often can be no bleeding when inserting an object larger than the hymen opening itself.
In conclusion, penetrative intercourse does not always tear the virginal membrane and there can be no blood even when it is torn or stretched. Thus, bleeding or not bleeding are both normal when having sex for the first time.
- The hymen can recover its original shape after being torn
The hymen does not vanish. Experts say that mild tears of the mucosal tissue of the hymen can normally recover within 24 hours. This is why many women have a hymen even after intercourse experience. Also, when damaged it can change its appearance but it does not completely tear and become discharged from the body, nor will it disappear permanently.
✔️ Societal Damage
Due to these misconceptions this insignificant body part is adversely affecting many women’s lives around the world. Many girls are afraid of damaging their hymen from exercising, riding a bike, using a tampon, or through intercourse. Lies about virginity have taken away opportunities and freedom from women.
- Honor Killings
Women in some cultures receive death threats if there are suspicions of having had intercourse before their marriage. The bleeding of the hymen can become the perfect false evidence. Even today, there are cases of husbands complaining to the family of the wife after seeing no blood on the first night of their marriage, and family members murdering the woman for tarnishing the reputation of the family.
- An Artificial Hymen
The erroneous belief about the hymen is placing fear and pressure on women. As a result, many products have appeared in our capitalist society targeting this fear. You can find products “returning virginity” on global online shopping sites and social media. Blood capsules that simulate bleeding, artificial hymen kits using cellulose film, gels that enhance the tightness of the vagina, and more. In the medical world, there are also surgical procedures performed that can “repair” the hymen.
Many countries and societies associate “virginity” with “purity”.
In most situations, the indicator of purity is quite simple. It is whether you have had penetrative intercourse. On the other hand, the opposite of purity is contamination or corruption. In most societies this is specified religiously as the sin of lust. Such negative connotations leads to a big problem of invoking a sense of guilt in anyone that engages in intercourse.
It is now the 21st century and many find the need to redefine the term “purity”. Whether someone is a virgin, has had intercourse, or is pure should not be based on their physical state but rather on their personal experience and thoughts.
The only person who can define the purity of your body is you.
- The hymen is not an indicator that determines the virginity of women.
- It is time to break down the myths surrounding the hymen.