Virginity, and what it means, and what it has to do with hymens is often misunderstood and there is a lot of incorrect information out there. It is important we all know the real facts. This is especially so for anyone who has been sexually abused or assaulted or had any type of sexual contact that they were not OK with. The hymen is set just inside the vaginal entrance and is well protected by the two layers of lips of the vulva, the labia major and the labia minora.
1. Chances are, even if your hymen is intact, you won't be able to see it.
The concept of female "virginity" has a complicated history, and has often been incorrectly linked to breaking the hymen. Bleeding after intercourse was thought to be proof of an unbroken hymen, and thus, proof that a woman had not had sex before. The reality, however, is that the state of your hymen has nothing to do with sexual activity. As for how to know if your hymen is broken, it's near impossible to see it for yourself. But let's back up and talk about what the hymen actually is. The hymen is a small, ragged membrane just inside the opening to the vagina review our vagina anatomy lesson here. All hymens are not created equal. So many things other than intercourse can wear the hymen away, including horseback riding, biking, gymnastics, using tampons, fingering, and masturbation, which basically leads to "breaking" the hymen without ever having sex. Some women are even born without hymens.
2. Even intact hymens may have openings within them.
The hymen is the stuff of legend and lore in many cultures, the treasured prize a woman gives her husband on their wedding night. People often do not know what it looks like or what really happens to it when virginity is lost. For example, some of my teen patients have questions about a partner male or female inserting a finger into a vagina. If a girl uses a tampon does that cause her to lose her virginity?
Hymens can come in different shapes. The most common hymen in young women is shaped like a half moon. This shape allows menstrual blood to flow out of the vagina. Imperforate hymen : An imperforate hymen can sometimes be diagnosed at birth. More often, the diagnosis is made during the teen years. An imperforate hymen is a thin membrane that completely covers the opening to the vagina. Menstrual blood cannot flow out of the vagina. Some girls may also have pain with bowel movements and trouble passing urine. The treatment for an imperforate hymen is minor surgery to remove the extra hymenal tissue and create a normal sized vaginal opening so that menstrual blood can flow out of the vagina. Microperforate hymen : A microperforate hymen is a thin membrane that almost completely covers the opening to the vagina.