Torn hymen (virgin or not?)

The hymen is a piece of tissue that lies across the entrance to the vagina. It does not obstruct the entrance to the vagina but may be torn during sexual intercourse, thus producing the bleeding which for many years was seen as evidence of virginity.

The prominence and elasticity of the hymen varies and by no means do all women bleed after their first sexual intercourse. The hymen may well have been stretched or broken previously by exercise, tampon usage or by injuries such as the straddling of a bike saddle.

An article in the BMJ states
In our experience of examining more than 1000 adolescents who had experienced vaginal penetration the most common appearance of the hymen was of indeterminate disruption to the free edge.

So called rupture and bleeding of the hymen is not to be routinely expected after first sexual intercourse. (BMJ 1999;318:605 )

Another study showed that 19% of the sexually active postpubertal females had no visible abnormalities of the hymen. BMJ 1998;317:414

Losing your virginity occurs when you first have sex and has nothing to do with broken hymens, which may have happened prior to you first having sex. The lack of bleeding after first intercourse should not be taken as evidence of non-virginity. However some cultures see this as so important that women undergo operations prior to their marriage that will ensure that they bleed on the night of their wedding*

If you do get pain and bleeding, use a pad/panty liner and take some painkillers. Sex will get better as you get more experienced, some women bleed the first few times they have sex. Remember not to attempt penetration until you are aroused and make sure that you and your partner use plenty of lubrication (KY Jelly or similar products are easily available from chemists or try blushing buyer if you canít face the chemist)

* BMJ 1998;316:461 (7 February) Sara Paterson-Brown

Further information

This article published on
12 December 2005

Next review date 12/1/2013


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