Facebook Pixel

What is the Hymen?

By HERWriter
Rate This

The hymen is a membrane or tissue that lines and partially blocks the vaginal opening. Hymens can be thick or thin. It also leaves an opening to allow menstrual blood to flow out.

According to LiveStrong.com, it’s a common misconception that the hymen is inside the vagina. It’s actually part of the vulva. It’s formed from a layer of tissue that develops in the early stages of fetal development.

Sometimes the hymen is not ideal.

An imperforate hymen has tissue covering the entire vaginal opening and menstrual blood can’t flow out. Blood can back up in the vagina and develop into an abdominal mass and lead to abdominal or back pain. This can be fixed with minor surgery to create an opening.

A microperforate hymen has a membrane that almost completely covers the vaginal opening. Blood can get out, but the opening is extremely small. Minor surgery can create a normal size opening.

A septate hymen is when there is an extra band of tissue. When this happens, there are two small openings, not one. Again minor surgery can remove the extra tissue and make a normal opening.

Still yet, some women are born without a hymen.

The hymen is most famous for being associated with a woman’s virginity. The age-old belief being that since it covers the vaginal opening; the hymen stays intact until a woman has sexual intercourse. Guess what? A torn hymen doesn’t mean a woman has lost her virginity.

According to Discovery Health, it’s a scientific fact that the hymen can be separated for reasons quite unconnected to sexual intercourse. It can separate when the body is stretched strenuously, as in athletics; it can be separated by inserting a tampon during menstruation or through masturbation; and sometimes it is separated for no apparent reason.

A hymen can also be stretched or torn by fingers, sex toys and even during a gynecological exam. Some women have hymen tissue that’s so flexible, it moves aside during penetration. And for others, inserting tampons or fingers doesn’t do a thing to their hymen.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Sexual Health

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Related Checklists

Sexual Health Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!