The hymen : if you've got a vagina, you'll have one. But the problem with this particular body part is that no-one seems to actually know what it is or what it does. Does your hymen break during sex? Do tampons stretch it? Does it disappear altogether? All this and it'd be perfectly possible to go through life never noticing you had a hymen at all. But have one women do, and much of the fixation revolves around whether it's 'broken' or not. If it is, it's often seen as a 'sign' that a woman hasn't yet lost her virginity or used a tampon.
What does it mean when a hymen is "broken"?
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2. Even intact hymens may have openings within them.
The concept of female "virginity" has a complicated history, and has often been incorrectly linked to breaking the hymen. Bleeding after intercourse was thought to be proof of an unbroken hymen, and thus, proof that a woman had not had sex before. The reality, however, is that the state of your hymen has nothing to do with sexual activity. As for how to know if your hymen is broken, it's near impossible to see it for yourself. But let's back up and talk about what the hymen actually is. The hymen is a small, ragged membrane just inside the opening to the vagina review our vagina anatomy lesson here. All hymens are not created equal. So many things other than intercourse can wear the hymen away, including horseback riding, biking, gymnastics, using tampons, fingering, and masturbation, which basically leads to "breaking" the hymen without ever having sex.
View research View latest news Sign up for updates. Metrics details. Clinicians, however, continue to refer to changes in the hymen to assess for a history of consensual or nonconsensual sexual intercourse. We reviewed published evidence to dispel commonly held myths about the hymen and its morphology, function, and use as evidence in cases of sexual violence. An examination of the hymen is not an accurate or reliable test of a previous history of sexual activity, including sexual assault. We call on clinicians to consider the low predictive value of a hymen examination and to: 1 avoid relying solely on the status of the hymen in sexual assault examinations and reporting; 2 help raise awareness of this issue among their peers and counterparts in law enforcement and the judicial system; and 3 promote fact-based discussions about the limitations of hymenal examinations as part of clinical education for all specialties that address the sexual or reproductive health of women and girls.