What do you really know about hymens? It is said that people know if a woman is a virgin or not according to the existence of a hymen. This is an issue that's mostly important in the Arab world, where the groom looks for a few drops of blood that would determine his bride a virgin, after having their first sexual intercourse. Sometimes, women don't bleed after having sex for the first time, and such an incident could cause huge misunderstandings between couples. We say misunderstandings because those preconceptions are totally false. Yes, FALSE! Many researches have proved that the appearance of blood during a couple's first time of having sex is not a necessity, and even if there is bleeding, it might not be caused by losing one’s virginity or ‘hymen breakage’. To discuss this further, we gathered everything you should know about hymens.
What are hymens?
A hymen is a membrane that surrounds a woman’s vagina, with an opening that differs in size and shape. Hymens are present in the female's body since birth, but they naturally wear off gradually with puberty and normal vaginal discharges.
What does the hymen look like?
One of the most important things you should know about hymens is that tt varies from one woman to another; there are four types of hymen shapes:
- Normal hymen: This is the most common hymen type among women, in which it takes the shape of a half moon covering the vagina partially.
- Microperforate hymen: That's when the hymen covers the whole vagina with only a small opening.
- Septate hymen: The type of hymen where the membrane has two openings instead of one.
- Imperforate hymen: This is when the hymen covers the entire vaginal area with no openings at all. This type is usually detected at an early age, as it causes a constant abdominal pain, and it usually requires a surgical treatment. Due to its nature, menstrual blood can’t flow out which causes that pain, and that's why that case needs a medical examination.
Can a woman know what type of hymen she has?
You can tell what type of hymen you have, but that's only when you go in for a medical check-up. This would also inform you if you don’t even have a hymen. Women in the Middle East aren't usually willing to go for such an examination, so they don’t know what type of hymen they have.
Do all women have hymens?
No, although most women are born with hymens, there is a small percentage of females who are born without hymens.
What causes a hymen to break?
As mentioned before, hymens wear out over time due to various reasons, meaning that sometimes it doesn't "break" during a first sexual experience. People usually refer to the partial rapture of a hymen when having sex for the first time as breaking, but let us clarify something here. Hymens have an elastic nature and they vary in their elasticity from one woman to another, which means that the breakage process also differs. Also, the hymen breakage during the first intercourse would highly depend on the nature of it, and if it has worn out due to other factors.
In case the hymen wasn't worn out, and has average or low elasticity, part of it raptures during intercourse and causes bleeding. There are types of hymens which are very fragile, so they wear out very easily, whether it’s from age or aggressive movements or sports (gymnastics, horse riding, extreme falls targeting the lower part of your body, etc…)
There is also a type of hymen which is extremely elastic. This type can be stretched when having sex without breaking if there is a sufficient opening. If the opening is small, that means you will not be able to have sex unless having a minor surgery to remove part of the hymen.
Does a woman bleed only when the hymen breaks?
This is one of the most common misconceptions. A woman can bleed during her first intercourse due to several reasons:
1. If she isn’t aroused and lubricated enough during penetration, causing tearing and abrasion to the tissue of a woman’s vulva, which leads to bleeding.
2. When the man is too rough during sex, which causes the tearing of the tissue inside a woman’s vulva.
3. Due to medical infections, where sexually transmitted infections could cause bleeding.
4. As a result of hymen breakage.
In conclusion, this is the basic information you need to know about hymens. Virginity is not about a piece of membrane that wears off with time, or a few drops of blood that could be the result of rough intercourse. It is the mutual trust between two people.