[Originally from Ferne]
There’s a lot of confusion and myths circulated about women’s health, and one common misunderstanding of female anatomy is the hymen.
The hymen is a remnant tissue just inside the opening of the vagina. It’s left over from a vagina formation during its embryonic development. Lots of people associate this tissue with virginity and assume it “breaks” when you have penetrative sex for the first time, but is it true?
Misconception 1: Everyone who has a vagina has a hymen
Many people think this tissue totally covers the opening of your vagina until it’s stretched open, but that’s not usually the case. For most women, it’s a membrane covering the vagina opening that naturally has a hole to allow period blood to come out.
But some other women are born with little hymenal tissue or without the tissue at all! Not everyone who has a vagina would have it, so don’t trouble yourself finding it.
Misconception 2: It completely covers the opening of vagina
If you do have a hymen, it would come with a hole that’s big enough to allow period blood and the usage of tampons. In some rare cases, though, some women have hymens that cover the entire vaginal opening, or the hole is so small that it would interfere with sex or tampon usage. In these cases, they would need to see a doctor to remove the extra tissue.
Misconception 3: Hymen indicates a woman’s virginity
Many people believe that the indicator of virginity is an “intact” hymen, and some women would even seek for a hymenoplasty or repair surgery in order to prove their virginity. The (unnecessary) cultural need or the importance to demonstrate virginity in itself is a topic for another day.
However, having a hymen and being a virgin is not the same thing. Some people are born with hymens that are naturally open, and many activities, such as cycling and swimming, can stretch it. You can’t tell if someone has had sex by the way this tissue looks or feels.
Misconception 4: You will bleed when stretching your hymen
Many people believe there should be blood after the first sexual intercourse. However, the hymen is a membrane that can be stretched with minimal or no injury. It only has a few blood vessels, so even if it’s torn, it may not bleed significantly.
Forced penetration and lack of lubrication may cause lacerations to the vaginal wall, both of which are most likely to be responsible for the “blood-stained bedsheets,” rather than trauma to this tissue.
If anyone were to think he has “scored a victory” with the blood-stained bedsheets, think again: it probably meant it might not have been such an enjoyable session for the other party without enough lubrication.
Misconception 5: Hymen can be seen or felt
The hymen is a membrane inside your vagina, so it’s impossible to see it yourself even with a mirror and a flashlight. It’s also nearly impossible for your partner to feel it during penetration, or feel it by fingers. Stretching or tearing it might hurt some people, but most people won’t feel it happen at all.
In conclusion, the state of this tissue — or lack thereof — has nothing to do with whether you’ve engaged in sexual activities. On top of it, the idea of virginity means very different things to different people, therefore it is not something to worry about.
If you know of anyone who has any of these misconceptions, do share this with them for emotional and mental clarity and/or relief to adjust their expectations for a better relationship with their own bodies and their loved ones.