What if the hymen breaks

No more myths: what you should know about the "hymen"

The "hymen" is a stretchy, elastic fold of skin that surrounds the vaginal entrance, but does not completely close it. Rather, you have to think of it as a kind of elastic hem that borders the vaginal opening. The technical term is hymen, which means something like skin or membrane.

It is also logical that there is no complete occlusion here, as many people imagine, because this is the only way secretions and menstrual blood can escape from the vagina during periods. It is only in very rare cases that the membrane completely closes the entrance to the vagina. In this case - doctors call this hymenal atresia - the hymen must be artificially opened by a gynecologist.

The shape, thickness and size of the hymen can vary greatly - the "hymen" looks different from woman to woman. It is also very stretchy and elastic. It is therefore a misconception that the membrane could tear or be injured when inserting a tampon or when exercising.

Where is the hymen?

The "hymen" is a kind of mucous membrane that lies at the entrance to the vagina and separates the vaginal cavity from the outer pubic area. More precisely, the hymen is one to two centimeters deep in the vagina. It is usually open and therefore not a closure or whatever.

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Does the "hymen" have a function?

There are scientists who say that the cuticle serves as a protection until puberty so that pathogens cannot enter the vagina unhindered.

In the course of puberty and the associated hormonal changes, however, lactic acid bacteria would form, which would serve as biological protection for the vagina. Thus the "hymen" would then become useless. However, there is no concrete evidence for the thesis.

Also read: Petting: Why it's more than just foreplay

What is it about the thesis that the hymen "rips"?

Many young girls in particular are wondering whether the "hymen" will tear at some point, for example when a tampon is inserted. This concern is usually unjustified, because the opening in the "hymen" is large enough to allow a tampon or a finger to be inserted without damaging the membrane. Nevertheless, it can happen that the "hymen" tears unnoticed. However, this is extremely rare because the membrane is soft and elastic.

Ultimately, the rim of the vaginal mucous membrane, the hymen, remains for a lifetime. It does not go away, it only changes in the course of life, for example when you have a child or as you get older. The fact that you have a "hymen" that closes the vagina completely until the first sex, which then tears, bleeds and disappears, is a myth that unfortunately still lingers in people's heads.

Important to know: During penetrative sex with a girl, a boy cannot feel whether the skin is still there or not. In addition, the belief that the only time a girl has not had sex if she bleeds the first time is a misconception. That can happen, but it doesn't have to. And this fact is unfortunately to blame for the fact that many young women are put under great pressure. There is so much suffering, especially in families where women are supposed to marry virgins.

Terres de Femmes writes: "The myth of the hymen is used again and again to limit the way women lead their lives and deny them their sexual self-determination. In strictly traditionally patriarchal families, the honor of the family is associated with the virginity of their daughters. Few people know that virginity can hardly be proven medically based on the hymen."

Why the term "hymen" should be replaced

The term "hymen" is therefore not really pleasant either. As with the term "lose one's innocence" or "immaculateness", there is a moral club that has no justification. Why do boys repel each other and girls "stain" and "guilty" the first time they have sex?

The Swedes were exemplary here and quickly replaced the term with a new one. It is well known that language determines our thinking more than we are aware of. And so the "Swedish Association for Enlightened Sex Education" (RFSU) has replaced the ideology-laden term "hymen", which includes the word "virgin", with the term "vaginal corona".

Corona in this case means wreath or crown and refers to the frill-like folds of the mucous membrane of the hymen.

Also read: The first time: The most important tips for (sex) beginners

Video: We asked: The first time

Video from the editorial team

Does it hurt the first time you have sex?

That cannot be said pro forma. Because: what exactly is sex? For many people it is certainly vaginal penetration via the penis. But this view assumes heteronormativity, i.e. the idea that sex always takes place between a man and a woman. Thus it only includes a part of people and their sexuality and excludes many others. And it also excludes many types of sexual activity that do not necessarily have to do with penetration.

But if we now assume that a boy has penetrative sex with a girl, one can say that whether it is painful for the girl during the first sexual intercourse depends on various factors. Of course, also from the tenderness of the partner.

One possible scenario: The "hymen" tears during the first sexual intercourse due to the penetration of the partner. This triggers a slight bleeding. Another scenario that is just as common is that there is no bleeding at all. The fact is: According to profamilia, only less than 50 percent of women bleed during their first sexual intercourse.

The uncomfortable feeling or the pain felt during the first sexual intercourse are usually not primarily caused by the hymen, but rather by an insensitive partner, by cramped vaginal muscles or the friction of the too dry mucous membranes. In order to moisten the genital area sufficiently the first time, simply use a water-based lubricant in the latter case.

Also read: Natural contraception: the different methods are so safe!

Is it possible to restore a "torn" hymen?

Yes, this procedure is called hymen reconstruction. Some young women who have already lost their virginity have the "hymen" surgically sealed again before the wedding.

From the perspective of gynecologists, however, this makes little sense. On the one hand, because there are girls who do not have a "hymen" at all. In addition, not every woman bleeds when the membrane tears. So it makes no sense to restore a hymen just as evidence of virginity.

Terres de Femmes writes: "The great social pressure that is exerted in this way increases the demand for so-called reconstruction operations, in which the hymen is to be 'restored'. These operations are not only risky and expensive, they also guarantee no bleeding on the wedding night. "

And there is a far more important reason not to intervene in this way. The main purpose of these operations is to keep the myth of virginity alive. Much to the detriment of young women.

Again plain text:

It is not necessarily provable that a woman is a virgin or not. If the hymen is undamaged, it is not evidence of virginity, nor is a damaged skin evidence that the girl has already had sex. And if word got around, there would be far less suffering from young women and girls in the world.

Women are not goods that lose value as soon as you open the packaging or "deflower" it (a very unsightly term, by the way, because it sounds completely passive). The hymen is not a seal. It doesn't make us more valuable or less valuable. And every woman should have a right to discover and live her sexuality. And she shouldn't have to justify herself for it.

You can find more information at:

Info page from Terres de Femmes: Virginity - a life-threatening myth

You can also find detailed information about the hymen on our sister portal, the health portal onmeda.de

The Hymen - Misconceptions and Facts
Here you will find a brochure especially for young girls from Terre des femmes - Human Rights for Women e.V.

The website of the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) is aimed specifically at young people and covers everything to do with relationships, sexuality and contraception.

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. In the event of complaints, pain or other questions, please consult the attending physician.

Created on February 11, 2020