7 Things You Didn't Know About The Hymen

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A woman lays on a bed.
Get the facts about a widely misunderstood part of the female anatomy, the hymen.
Get the facts about a widely misunderstood part of the female anatomy, the hymen.
Ah, yes. The hymen. That tiny little membrane that supposedly covers our lady parts. Let's clear a few things up, shall we? You might have grown up believing that whole urban legend about the hymen "ripping" or "breaking" during first intercourse, and as a result, there was going to be some major pain involved. Turns out that just isn't the case, folks.

Ah, yes. The hymen. That tiny little membrane that supposedly covers our inner lady parts. Let's clear a few things up, shall we?

You might have grown up believing that whole urban legend about the hymen "ripping" or "breaking" during first intercourse, and as a result, there was going to be some major pain involved. Turns out that just isn't the case, folks.

 

Ah, yes. The hymen. That tiny little membrane that supposedly covers our inner lady parts. Let's clear a few things up, shall we?

You might have grown up believing that whole urban legend about the hymen "ripping" or "breaking" during first intercourse, and as a result, there was going to be some major pain involved. Turns out that just isn't the case, folks.

There's actually a lot we never knew about the hymen. Psychology Today was kind enough to let us in on a few little-known facts, so take a gander for some eye-opening knowledge about a very misunderstood membrane.

1. No one really knows why female babies are born with hymens. All we know is that they are. At birth, the doughnut-shaped membrane is prominent and thick, but that changes pretty rapidly. Judy Blume: Crucial Sex Education For Young Girls

2. Hymenal tissue is usually worn away by adolescence. During the early years, the membrane thins and widens as a result of athletics, self-exploration, cleansing and even activity as simple as walking. A little of the tissue may remain around the vaginal opening, but that's usually it. Which means…  

3. The pain experienced by many women during their first time is not because the hymen is breaking. That urban legend you've most likely heard about? It was actually a big ol' myth. Most of the membrane is already worn away when a woman finally has intercourse, and plays little to no role discomfort. Many gals believe their initial sexual experience is going to be unpleasant, because that is what they've been told, so it is. It makes sense when you think about it. When we think something will hurt, we feel anxious and tense which ultimately gives way to pain. So... What My First Time Taught Me About Sex

4. Those "bloody sheets" are not because the hymen is tearing, either. Most young partners are not experienced love-makers. Those first times are usually less skilled and sensual, and more trial and error. Hurried, poorly-lubricated or rough sex can cause sensitive vaginal tissue to bleed, but not hymenal tissue to break. The Smoking-Hot Reason To Avoid First-Date Sex

5. The intact hymenal membrane does not cover the whole vaginal opening. If it did, girls who still had bits of the hymen left at puberty would not be able to menstruate.

6. About one in 200 women have an imperforate hymen. That means around 0.5% of hymens don't wear away normally and have openings too small for tampons or erections to comfortably enter the vagina. These days, in those cases, a fairly simple surgery is required to snip away some of the membrane. Hooray for modern medicine, right?

7. Throughout time, people have gone to great lengths to find proof that the hymen was indeed broken after marriage. In old cultures, newlyweds were expected to hand over bloody sheets after the wedding night to 1. confirm that the hymen had ripped, 2. make sure the woman was a virgin and 3. check that the two had consummated the union. A little nosy, don't you think? Many brides didn't even risk it, they would simply cut the inside of their thighs with a sharp fingernail to soil the sheets—just in case.

All that fuss for centuries over a totally wrong idea?! Sigh. We're glad the myth has finally been put to rest.

 
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