Myth Busting: The Hymen and Virginity
Many people have heard the term “popping the cherry” in reference to a woman loosing her virginity.
This phrase refers to the hymen that, if penetrated during intercourse (or various other activities), may cause bleeding. Some cultures use the hymen as proof of a woman’s virginity, but this is a problematic misconception.
It’s time to get the facts right when it comes to the hymen:
What is a hymen?
The hymen is located inside the opening of a woman’s vagina. It is a thin membrane that comes in all different shapes and sizes. The most common shape of the hymen is a half moon. When you have your period, blood can go past the hymen and out through the vagina.
What does breaking the hymen actually mean?
Breaking the hymen, refers to stretching the hymen, causing a tiny tear, which may result in slight bleeding, in some women. The hymen is not “popped” or “broken,” it is torn after stretching and not all women bleed after their hymen is stretched.
Does an intact hymen signal virginity?
The biggest myth about the hymen is that it predicts if a woman is a virgin. In certain cultures, if the hymen tears before a woman has sex, individuals will go as far as to have hymen reconstruction surgery to be able to bleed from penetration during intercourse to “prove’ that they are a virgin.
How can the hymen be torn?
In reality, sexual intercourse is NOT the only way to stretch the hymen, and a torn hymen does not mean a woman is not a virgin. Other things can stretch the hymeneal tissue, such as masturbation, insertion of fingers, as well as a speculum during a gynecological exam.
How much blood will there be when the hymen tears?
If you are a virgin, it is important to know that when you do decide to have intercourse, you may bleed. When your hymen is stretched and tears, for whatever reason, the amount of bleeding will vary. If bleeding is significant or persists for a few days, contact your doctor.