Thank you for your question, and feel free to contact us with any more that you may have! Structures of the Hymen The shape and structure of the hymen varies from female to female. If you notice small traces of broken skin surrounding your vaginal opening but no thin membrane, you may have already stretched or broken your hymen. The first image shows a perfect annular hymen. The hymen comes in many different shapes and sizes, and these images represent just a few examples of how the hymen may appear.
The structure of the hymen differs for each woman, meaning that the tendency to bleed is also variable. The first image shows a perfect annular hymen. Having a hymen that is already broken or perforated is completely normal and natural. The state of the hymen is not an accurate indicator of virginity. The hymen becomes less ring-like with exposure to sexual , masturbatory , or other physical activity. This type of hymen can impede blood flow during menstruation and must be surgically corrected. Myths About the Hymen As mentioned, having sexual intercourse is not the only way that a female can break her hymen. This tissue can be thick and rigid, which may make tampon use and penetrative sex difficult. Smerecnik, Chris, et al. Ignorance about the structure of the hymen and why it may not be intact can have severe consequences for women. Implications for sex education and prevention. It is generally accepted amongst health professions that the hymen is an ineffective indicator of vaginal-penile sexual intercourse. Sometimes, the bands will naturally stretch or break on their own; other times, a healthcare professional may need to surgically correct the tissue. If there is a thin layer of skin with a small hole or holes present, your hymen is most likely intact. Cultural Significance In many cultures, the presence of a hymen is synonymous with female virginity. You can read more about the cultural significance of the hymen here. How do I know if I have an intact hymen? In many parts of the world, women who are found with a ruptured hymen face severe and sometimes fatal consequences. The fourth image shows an imperforate hymen. Many women are born with perforated hymens. If you cannot see into your vaginal canal, use a flashlight to illuminate the area although this can be tricky while trying to hold the mirror and your labium apart. The picture below shows the most common configurations. If you cannot see into your vaginal canal, use a flashlight to illuminate the area although this can be tricky while trying to hold the mirror and your labia apart. The fifth image shows a parous introitus hymen, or a hymen that is nearly or completely gone. Some hymenal tissue may remain after a female has had intercourse; even after childbirth, there may be a few remnants left of the hymen.
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