There can be so many questions that come with having a vagina. Like: What’s the deal with discharge? Is there such a thing as too much pubic hair? And WTF is a hymen?!
While you can find our answers to questions one and two in other stories, we’re here to today to tackle everything you need to know about the hymen. Spoiler alert: No, it’s not something that can be popped.
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What is a hymen?
A hymen is a "little piece of membranous tissue that covers the vaginal opening," says Dr. Tristan Bickman, OB/GYN based in Santa Monica. While hymens come in a variety of shapes, the most common is that of a half moon. This allows blood to easily flow out of your vagina during your period.
I think my hymen is misshapen — is that normal?If you have a misshapen hymen, don"t fret, it"s not uncommon. While a half-moon shape is the most common hymen shape, they come in all different sizes. Some women are even born without one!
According to Young Women"s Health, however, there are three types of irregular hymens that may actually cause discomfort to you…Imperforate Hymen:
This is when the membrane completely covers the opening of your vagina. When this occurs, blood is unable to flow out of the vagina, causing a back up of blood and pain in the abdominal region and/or back.Microperforate Hymen:
A microperforate hymen is when there is an opening in the membrane, but it"s very small. So, blood can flow out, but often a tampon can"t be inserted, or if it is inserted, it can"t be removed once it has filled up with blood.
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A septate hymen occurs when there is an extra band of tissue in the middle of the vaginal opening, causing two small holes, instead of one (it kind of looks like a nostril). Like a microperforate hymen, a septate hymen might cause difficulty in inserting or removing a tampon.
All three of these abnormalities can be fixed with a minor surgery. Also, it should be stated that it"s hard to see your own hymen. So, if you"re nervous something is up, make an appointment with your doctor and get it checked out.
Will My Hymen change shape?
"When you go through puberty and start menstruating, the estrogen that is made by your ovaries may change the appearance of
The first time you have vaginal sex, "your hymen may not even be there for a variety of reasons," like "physical exercise, tampons, menstrual cups." If it"s still there, however, "it can cause temporary bleeding or discomfort," Dr. Bickman says.
Once your hymen has been stretched out, it won"t grow back, but that"s OK!
So, if my hymen is stretched out, does that mean I"m not a virgin?
Nope! As previously stated, your hymen "can be ruptured without knowing" from numerous activities that don"t involve sex at all, Dr. Bickman says. So, your hymen is not a good way to determine virginal status. Also, every hymen looks different. So, while some people are born with a half-moon hymen, others can be born with a more stretched out one, so you really can"t tell anything from the state of one"s hymen.
So, I"m not going to "Pop my cherry" the first time I have sex?
You may have heard of the term "popping your cherry" or some variation of that, thrown around the school cafeteria or a sleepover. The phrase refers to when a person bleeds because their hymen “breaks,” either during vaginal intercourse for the first time, or maybe even fingering. The idea that you will definitely bleed at some point, whether it"s the first time you have sex, or if you get fingered, or even just from playing sports, is a myth. Yes, it may happen, but it"s not guaranteed. Since all hymens look different, some may stretch and cause pain and bleeding the first time having sex, and some may not.
OK, but then why did it hurt so much when I lost my virginity?
Again, the pain and bleeding associated with first-time vaginal intercourse depends on your hymen. If you have a smaller vaginal opening because your hymen is bigger, then it may hurt more, and there may be some blood the first time you"re vaginally penetrated.
Additionally, if you"re scared about pain during sex for the first time, or if you"ve had sex for a few times and it"s still painful, you can slowly stretch out your hymen overtime with your fingers, according to Planned Parenthood.