Human Hymen - The Test for Virginity
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Human Hymen: The Test for Virginity

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 17 Dec 2014 - 12:48.

Hymen is present only in females.The hymen is an area of tissue that represents the opening to the vagina. The vaginal opening in a young woman is surrounded by a thin membrane called the hymen.

Anatomy: The external genetalia in a female is collectively known as vulva. the inside parts of vulva are well protected by two thick folds of skin called the labia majora. Within the labia majora are two thin folds of skin called labia minorca that cover the urethral and the vaginal opening.

The Hymen holds historical significance and young women are called virgins if their hymen is intact before the first sexual experience with a male partner. Intact hymen is considered a yardstick to confer virginity in a young woman. The moment the hymen ruptures after the first sexual encounter the woman in question is no longer considered as a virgin. However, the hymen can get ruptured even without a sexual encounter. Most commonly the hymen in majority of women is shaped like a half moon allowing the flow of menstrual blood out of the vagina.

Types of hymen:

A hymen can be present in different shapes in different girls.

The different shapes of Hymen are as under:

Imperforate Hymen: With a careful watch, an imperforate hymen can be diagnosed at the time of birth. However, the diagnosis usually is not made until the teenage of the girl. An imperforate hymen is a thin membrane which fully covers the opening to a young girl’s or woman’s vagina. This makes it impossible for the menstrual flow to come out of the vagina. Thus resulting in the blood backing up in the vagina and the abdomen leading to abdominal or back pain. Some of the teens with this problem may complain of pain during defecation and while passing urine. Treatment for an imperforate hymen involves a minor surgery in which the extra hymenal tissue is removed and a normal sized vaginal opening is created so that menstrual blood can flow out of the vagina.

Without this small opening a woman’s monthly menstrual flow will have no place to make an exit from the womb. Unfortunately nature forgets the fact in overlooking the need for an opening and a human is required to create an opening to let out the blood clots accumulated in the womb. Without surgery the victim of this condition may even loose life when the clots trapped in the womb get infected leading to septicemia and eventual death.

Microperforate Hymen: This is almost like an imperforate hymen except that a very minute opening is present through which menstrual blood cannot pass easily. Girls using tampon find it difficult to get the tampon inside the vagina and may not realize that they have a small opening in the vaginal orifice. If she applies force she may find it difficult to remove the blood filled tampon. Treatment is same like in imperforate hymen involving minor surgery to create a normal opening for easy flow of the menstrual blood.

Septate Hymen: In this condition the membrane of hymen has a band of extra tissue in the middle causing two small vaginal openings, instead of one, like in all normal girls. Girls with two small openings find it difficult and troublesome getting a tampon inside or getting it out from the vagina. Treatment for this condition is once again a minor surgical procedure, which involves removing the extra band of tissue, and creating a normal sized single vaginal opening. However, in some cases if a woman with a septate hymen indulges in sexual intercourse the vertical tissue may get torn resulting in a single opening though this is fraught with bleeding and may be infection.

Cribriform Hymen: In this condition there will be several small openings in the hymen like a sieve. Surgical repair involving dissection and creation of a single opening for the entrance to the vagina.There are many more types of hymen. However, only few of the commonly encountered types have been dealt with.

The myth about virginity still continues. Many of us are mistaken that the hymen is a thick band of tissue, which has got to be ruptured at the first attempt in sexual intercourse with evidence of some bleeding.This may not be true in all cases and most girls may continue to have an unruptured hymen may be due to laxity of the membrane. In some cases the hymen may get ruptured even without a sexual encounter like in cases of horse riding or some sports involving friction with the vulva. Masturbatory practices are a leading cause of rupture of the hymen.

Girls continue to suffer from any of these variations mainly because of ignorance or shyness to consult a gynecologist until the problem leads to complications and unforeseen calamities in their sex life.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.