I remember being terrified of losing my virginity. The idea of my vagina bleeding and the potential pain because something “popped” was supposed to be a “rite of passage” but it just ended up delaying my sexual activity. Despite a fairly decent sex education program for the time, it was still years before the thin membrane was clear to me.
Let’s clear up some myths…
IT’S NOT A COVER
Well, not always. Think of it more like a flesh scrunchie or elastic around your vaginal opening.
NOTE: From the Greek word “membrane”
IT’S NOT ALWAYS PAINFUL OR MESSY
Blood and agony often come from either aggravated injury from something other than sex, the less-than-gentle taking of virginity (even if the person tries to be gentle), or a shape that increases the chance of tearing or stretching. Add that to a person’s own bleeding time, etc.
THEY COME IN DIFFERENT SHAPES
There’s WAY more than having one or not having one. You can even be born without one. Here are the seven different ways the opening can appear…
ANNULAR – This membrane ring around the vaginal opening is what stretches when you have sex or other things that might cause it to “erode.”
POSTERIOR/ANTERIOR LUNAR – A similar idea to the annular opening, but more of a crescent moon shape higher or lower on the vaginal opening.
DENTATE – The membrane becomes less circular when you start having sexual intercourse, internal masturbation, etc.
FIMBRIATED, SEPTATE, SUBSEPTATE, BIFENESTRATE, CRIBIFORM, MICROPERFORATE – These are all other ways the hymen can naturally form, although the chances of these are lower and considered abnormal (in a neutral way) and not harmful to the body at all.
There are also a few other forms that aren’t the average shape…
IMPERFORATE – Here is where we can come into problems. It’s rare, but women can be born with zero opening at all. This is bad because when you get older and get your period, the blood has nowhere to go. Doctors will surgically create a hole if a baby is born this way.
ABSENT – Yep, you can be born without a hymen at all. Kind of screws with your ideas of virginity, doesn’t it?
After these, we have a few more…
POST BIRTH – Having a kid will definitely destroy any remanence of your hymen.
SEXUAL ACTIVITY – It can also change its form depending on how much sexual activity or internal masturbation you have.
SIDE NOTE – Obviously, sexual assault can affect the membrane’s shape. Health professionals know what signs to look for in these cases.
THERE ARE HEAVY CULTURAL CONNOTATIONS
The hymen has forever been tied to virginity and a woman’s purity. Even now, there are places where a woman can’t get married or isn’t “worth” anything unless her hymen is intact. It’s gone as far as to provide bloody handkerchiefs or pieces of material as proof of a consummated wedding night.
So, you can imagine the problems some women face if they are born without one.
Some people go as far as getting a “hymenorrhaphy”, where the hymen is literally reconstructed.
It’s a lot of fuss over, what really ends up being, a flesh scrunchie – especially considering there are SO many shapes and sizes possible upon birth that it’s hard to define “normal” (so let’s not).
Finally, it’s also worth mentioning that losing female virginity shouldn’t be painful or filled with blood. If done gently, it can be uncomfortable, but not tear-inducing. The times when there is “tearing” is when you have a small hymen, e.g. microperforated, etc.
Want more interesting articles? You might like these…
- What is Vaginal Atrophy? Estrogen, Sex, and Pain
- Vaginal Infections and Sex – Quick Guide to Why It Itches
- 16 Tips on How to Clean Your Vagina … the Right Way
Anything else you want to add? Share in the comments!