The Hymen

Many people are under the impression that the hymen is located within the vagina. It is not. It’s part of the vulva, the external genital organs. It’s located outside the vagina. The hymen is a layer of tissue, just like the tissue around the opening of your vagina that partially conceals the vaginal orifice. You may or may not have one, most females do. The hymen is named after the Greek God Hymenaeus -- the God of marriage and weddings, FYI.

During the early stages of fetal development there is no opening into the vagina at all. The thin layer of tissue that conceals the vagina at this time usually divides incompletely prior to birth, forming the hymen. The size and shape of this opening (or openings) varies greatly from person to person. Sometimes this formation of an opening does not occur, resulting in an imperforated hymen (it lacks the more common opening). Some females have no hymen at birth at all, since the tissue divided completely while they were still in the womb.

Many girls and teens tear or otherwise dilate their hymen while participating in sports like bicycling, horseback riding, gymnastics or inserting tampons, or while masturbating. A girl may not even know this has occurred, since there may be little or no blood or pain involved when this happens. The tissues of the vulva are generally very thin and delicate prior to puberty. The presence or absence of a hymen in no way indicates whether or not a female is a virgin. You are a virgin until you have sexual intercourse. That is the definition of “a virgin”.

Some hymens are elastic enough to permit a penis to enter without tearing, or they tear only partially, and there is NO bleeding at all. When adequately lubricated the vagina is fairly 'flexible' and will stretch without discomfort for most women. Sometimes, a woman has sex for years with no real 'tearing' at all, only stretching of the hymen and then at another time the same woman might tear from 'rough sex' or sex with a different partner with a larger penis. Remnants of the hymen are usually still present until a woman delivers a baby vaginally.

Sure, see what your vagina looks like with a mirror, it's your body, you should not be afraid of it . Some young women seem to obsess over what is 'normal'. So, put away the mirror after you know what is normal for you. You might see that your labia change as you get older, they might get a bit darker in color or longer, or not change at all. This is not abnormal, unless you are an adult. It is important to know what your body looks like, so you can tell when there is a change or something to see your health care provider about, but don’t obsess over what it is 'supposed to' look like. All of our faces look different and none of our vaginas look exactly the same either.

That’s all I have to say about hymens and vaginas for now. In the future there will be some diagrams of different hymens on this site.

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