What is the Hymen?
The hymen is a membrane-like tissue that typically sits at the bottom of the vagina, partially covering the opening. In some cases, the hymen may be missing altogether or may completely cover the vagina requiring minimal surgery to remove. Interestingly enough, the hymen has no real purpose, so whether you have one or not, don’t fret!
You Popped Your WHAT?
When I first learned about the hymen, like most pre-teens, I was told that when I had penetrative sex for the first time, my “cherry” (wtf?) would “pop” and blood would gush out… meaning I was no longer a “virgin.” Because of this highly inaccurate image, I actually believed that my vagina held a small ball filled with blood. Sadly, because of pretty minimal sex education, I didn’t realize what the hymen actually was until I was an adult. I personally blame the American approach to education around sex, but that’s for another blog post!
No blood? No problem.
In some cultures, if a vagina owner doesn’t bleed during their first penetrative experience, they may be accused of having had sex previously. And for those whose marriages rest on having been a virgin, lack of blood could be a real issue. But in reality, they may not have a hymen to rip, or it may have ripped at a different time, say during sports or other physically activities. Sometimes hymens may just stay in tact. So what is the moral of this story? Not bleeding really doesn’t mean anything at all. And the unfortunate fact that a person’s life trajectory could depend on whether they bleed during sex is extremely misogynistic and unfortunate.
So What Now?
If you’re curious about whether you have a hymen and/or what your hymen may look like, take a mirror and head on down there. In general, I recommend that all women look at their vulvas. It’s a great way to get to know yourself better! But honestly & truly, your body couldn’t be any more perfect if you tried.
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Alex Howlett: Sex Shaming Is a Recipe For Disaster
Real Women Talk 2: How Many Sexual Partners Have You Had? Is This Ok to Ask?