Every woman's body is unique.
For many, the popular phrase “popping your cherry” is the only introduction to the idea of a hymen.
But if you’re not sure what your hymen looks like or what it does, then you’re not the only one.
Many people are born with a hymen, and there are different types out there.
No two hymens are the same, and their size, shape, and thickness vary from person to person.
Lots of myths have been attached to the thin layer of tissue found at the opening of your vagina.
Let’s bust these misconceptions once and for all.
What is a Hymen?
The hymen is a thin membrane that partially covers the vaginal opening in some females.
It is a thin layer of tissue that can come in different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses, and may also have small openings or gaps.
The hymen is often associated with virginity, but the presence or absence of a hymen is not a reliable indicator of a woman’s sexual history.
Unlike other tissues and organs that have jobs to do, the hymen has no purpose.
It does not impact your body or reproductive system or health.
Some do believe that they act as a shield to keep bacteria and other small, foreign objects from entering your body, but there is no scientific evidence to support that.
How Can the Hymen Break?
The hymen can be stretched or torn by various activities, such as tampon use, physical activity, or sexual intercourse, but it can also remain intact after these activities.
The thinner your hymen gets, the more likely it is to eventually tear.
Tampons can also stretch it out, so the tissue can tear after numerous uses or even just one insertion.
If you use tampons regularly, it’s unlikely it is still intact.
Some women may not have one at all, as it can be naturally absent or have been worn away by normal physical activity.
Therefore, its presence or absence should not be used as a measure of virginity or sexual activity.
What Happens when the Hymen Breaks?
“Breaking” is a word often used when people are talking about hymens.
One minute it completely seals the opening to your vagina, and the next, it’s pierced and there’s a hole.
But the hymen doesn’t actually “break” in this way.
And as we know, most hymens do not seal your vagina.
Instead, think of it as a ring that is stretched and sometimes tears over time as things rub against it or enter the vagina.
You might experience slight pain or spotting (light bleeding) when this happens, but you might not even notice it happening at all.
Do I Have a Hymen?
The only way to tell if you still have a hymen or not is to use a mirror to examine yourself.
Your hymen will appear as a piece of tissue at the bottom of your vaginal opening.
If you notice light spotting or extra skin around your vaginal opening, or if you’re experiencing discomfort, your hymen may no longer be there.
There’s no need for panic if this happens as it’s a normal occurrence and there are no risks involved from a broken hymen.
Sometimes, when they break, they retreat into the vagina, or they remain as a small skin flap.
One common myth is that the hymen always breaks during the first instance of sexual intercourse.
This is not true. It can be stretched or torn by many other activities besides sex, such as physical activity or tampon use.
Some women may not have one at all.
Another common myth that many still believe is that a woman is not a virgin if her hymen is already broken.
Virginity is a social and cultural construct and not a medical term. Therefore, it is not determined by the presence or absence of a hymen.
Contrary to popular belief, the hymen does not always bleed when it breaks.
While some women may experience bleeding when the hymen tears or stretches, others may not experience any bleeding at all.
The hymen can also not be used to determine a woman’s sexual history.
It can be stretched or torn by many activities besides sex, and some women may not have one at all. Therefore, it is not a reliable indicator of sexual history.
It is important to remember that every woman’s body is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the hymen.