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? If she falls off her bike, might that affect her hymen, and thus her virginity? Who loses their virginity to a bicycle? Well, it depends on how you define virginity, and what you know about hymens. Contrary to popular belief, the hymen is not a flat piece of tissue covering the vagina, which is punctured during intercourse. If it were, girls would not be able to menstruate before they lose their virginity because there would be no outlet for menstrual blood. Usually, the hymen looks like a fringe of tissue around the vaginal opening.
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What is it?
In the Middle Ages, a royal bride would be inspected before her wedding night to make sure she was a virgo intacta —a virgin with an intact hymen covering the entrance to her vagina. This at the first time of copulation is broken, which causes some pain, and gushing forth of some quantity of blood; which is an evident sign of virginity. In reality, some girls are born without a hymen, while others tear the membrane long before they have sex, most commonly by exercising or, today, by using tampons. Yet the demand for virginity testing—typically, a gynecological exam in which a doctor looks for the presence of a hymen—has proved surprisingly durable. Read: Living myths about virginity. Two years ago, the American rapper T. Yes, I go with her … I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact. This fall, Britain is poised to ban virginity tests—and will consider banning hymen-repair surgery too.
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Virginity testing is a controversial practice that aims to determine whether a girl has had sexual intercourse or not. In some cultures, female virginity is highly valued and expected for marriage or employment. Testing may also be conducted in women who are being evaluated for sexual assault. Virginity testing is practiced around the world, particularly in parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. However, many medical experts believe that virginity testing is unreliable, with serious repercussions for girls subjected to it.
Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Clinicians, however, continue to refer to changes in the hymen to assess for a history of consensual or nonconsensual sexual intercourse. We reviewed published evidence to dispel commonly held myths about the hymen and its morphology, function, and use as evidence in cases of sexual violence. An examination of the hymen is not an accurate or reliable test of a previous history of sexual activity, including sexual assault. We call on clinicians to consider the low predictive value of a hymen examination and to: 1 avoid relying solely on the status of the hymen in sexual assault examinations and reporting; 2 help raise awareness of this issue among their peers and counterparts in law enforcement and the judicial system; and 3 promote fact-based discussions about the limitations of hymenal examinations as part of clinical education for all specialties that address the sexual or reproductive health of women and girls. The online version of this article