The Hymen: A Marker of Virginity?

Dr Rajan Bhonslea

Pronounced as India’s top sexologist, Professor Dr Rajan Bhonsle, MD, is a senior sex therapist and counselor from Mumbai, practicing for more than 35 years. He is an Hon p LESS… MORE

There are several myths, misconceptions and misapprehensions around the ‘hymen’ we still see in our society. Some ill-informed people tend to attach undue significance to the presence or absence of a hymen in women. According to them, technically speaking, a so-called female virgin is supposed to have an unbroken hymen, if she hypothetically has not had penetrative peno-vaginal intercourse earlier.

It is a myth that an intact hymen proves virginity. The rupturing of the hymen cannot be regarded as a test of a woman’s virginity or chastity.

Let us understand it well and get some facts right.

The ‘hymen’ is a thin membrane that women have at the opening of their vagina. It may or may not be even present in every girl at birth. In some girls, the hymen only has few small opening through which menstrual blood comes out. However, in other girls, the hymen is merely a rim of tissue. Sometimes it merely folds along the walls of the vagina naturally.

Vaginal bleeding while having intercourse for the very first time need not necessarily happen even if a woman is virgin. It is also possible that a woman’s hymen is absent since her birth or that it was ruptured without her knowledge during athletics, sports, dancing or other similar physical activities like acrobatics, cycling or horse riding.

Not every virgin girl has the type of hymen that could appear to “pop” with the very first act of penetrative intercourse. The hymen may also get torn during masturbation or if a girl uses tampons.

If a woman is born with a small or absent hymen, she might seem to not be a virgin. On the other hand, the hymen is often perforated or can be elastic enough to stretch to have space for sexual intercourse without breaking. If the hymen is present and then torn during the first penetrative intercourse there may be a small amount of bleeding and pain, but some women absolutely do not experience any pain or bleeding.

It is high time, we as a society stop giving undue importance to the presence or absence of a hymen in a woman. A woman is much more than her hymen.

Qualities like trust, responsibility, compassion, commitment, dedication, reliability, patience, gentility, sincerity are far more important to sustain happy conjugal relationships than worrying about a woman’s ‘virginity’. Marriages are meant to provide people with companionship, the pleasure of intimacy, sexual expression, a legitimate family unit, a life partner and a close friend.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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