Those who know me know I'm used to sitting out on a limb when it comes to Homo sapiens sexuality concepts which are assumed to be true but are simply not supported by biological facts. Well this topic may be the tenderest (pardon the pun) limb of them all. I'm starting this discussion a step too far in for most people who've never considered this topic. I'm not going to list all the readings I did, there were hundreds, with many many hours spent at my college and municipal libraries. What I present here is merely a template for discussion, in order to distinguish between the various issues at stake.

 

My background

I started inserting things in my vagina around age 7-8, back in the 70s. Not once was there any pain or blood. So failing to have any personal experience with any hymen concept, I always viewed it in the same light as god talk, NO evidence, NO GO. Of all the women I've known in my life, only 1 has attested to bleeding upon first copulation. And what the heck is first copulation anyway? You mean to say no finger (or tampon) ever went in before a penis?????? The first time I had actual sexual intercourse was just after the end of highschool, with my oh so handsome track coach. I was a little inebriated, and thought, oh, that's it?? LoL He was 2 years older than me and took charge of the action. I had no task to accomplish, which was a novelty, considering my previous sexual partners. So the years roll by and frankly, since those teenage years, I never once discussed any hymen. I was also a teaching assistant at college and university, during my biology studies, in compared anatomy and compared vertebrate anatomy, histology, and others. I led hundreds of lab dissections, in different schools, in two languages. Never once was a hymen part of the curriculum.

 

New Millennium

A few years ago, two Swedish researchers proclaimed high and loud "There is no Hymen". (I'm unable to trace that particular study at the moment) and I thought HUH??? of course there's no hymen! So I started to investigate the topic, and the first insult to intelligence was found on the hymen Wikipedia page, which shows a very old Gray's Anatomy pencil drawing of a vulva, with a little line pointing to where the "hymen" is supposedly located.  The Swedish Wikipedia page has also gone through some major transformations, and you'll notice a great difference in tone, and notoriously no lead image. Three years ago, the English language Wikipedia page did mention the Swedish study, but the page has now been cleansed by religious zealouts. And we're back to the good old "membrane covering vagina" line, except it's now been modified to accommodate "partially". So I started a Wikipedia brawl, and in the process had to learn about the vagina's embryonic development, forensic analysis of rape victims, various anatomy and embryology reference manuals, and sociological implications.

 

In the end, I lost the debate on Wikipedia (well about 80% loss), because sometimes on Wikipedia, no matter what the truth of the matter is, no matter the references, the contributors with the most time and doggedness will prevail. Three years ago there was zero science on that hymen page, now there is at least a little science.

 

The hymen myth suffers from two main challenges:

1-The god myth... religious people want us to prove the hymen does NOT exist.

2-In rare instances, due to incomplete embryonic development, possibly congenital, medical anomalies, the vagina is deemed 'imperforate'.

 

Abrahamic Faiths

The hymen is rationalised by the presence of blood upon first copulation. The Virgin Mary is a major component of Christianity and virginity assessment is a like an OCD for religious people.

 

The Wikipedia debate

Began with the "god does not exist" challenge. The drawing that is still used to show a hymen simply does not show one. So the most obvious course of action was to remove the useless outdated drawing and find a new drawing, or better yet, photograph, showing a hymen. Well, nobody could produce one, not in a healthy young girl.

 

Anatomy manuals

Gray's anatomy in the old days had a paragraph on the hymen, with a drawing. Today's GA has a one-liner, with a vulva drawing, the same stupid drawing which does not actually show any hymen. The smallest entry in the entire book. Other anatomy manuals do no better. Upon comparing manuals one gets the distinct impression that publishers/editors just keep on repeating the same old wives' tale. In rare instances where hymen believers produce actual photographs of healthy women's vulvas (vs rare medical anomalies), they point to an unexpanded vaginal opening, and blindly state: "this is the hymen". So what we see in the picture is nothing different than any 50 y/o women's vaginal opening, in reality, it ain't open unless you open it.

 

Medical anomalies

In very rare instances, girls who reach puberty experience a menstrual flow problem, no flow, or only in drops, because the vagina is not sufficiently open. Various estimates for this occurrence vary from 0.1% to 0.01%

 

Rape Forensics

Provide the strongest case against the existence of a hymen. I spent a couple of weeks at our law library, reading various rape forensics reports. The conclusion was: EXAMINATION OF THE VAGINAL OPENING (looking for a torn hymen) OF A YOUNG RAPE VICTIM NEVER PROVIDES PROOF OF RAPE. VAGINAL EXAMINATION IS INCONCLUSIVE. Unless the vagina walls were torn in cases of "rough" rape. Otherwise, vaginal openings are variable in nature, even during infancy (yep saddly there are infants who are raped, rollseyes), that one can look at a 6 month old female infant and find a perfectly open vagina, some have vaginal tabs, some are less open. Forensic scientists specialising in rape seem to be the only scientists who've had a real good look at young vaginas, beyond gynaecologists oddly enough.

 

Embryology manuals

I spent less time in these, but they do provide an additional argument, without stating it outright, against the existence of a hymen in normally developed females. The vagina develops from other embryonic structures, the upper half before the lower half. In the beginning, the vagina is a complete non tubular mass of cells. In the third trimester, the cells differenciate and the canal starts to appear. At the cellular level, there is no distinction between the lower vaginal wall cells and the cells at the vaginal opening. Specifically, there are no such thing in science as hymenal cells. The cells of the vaginal tabs are also the same cells as the vaginal wall. By the time of birth, 90% of female infants have open vaginas, and the majority of the remainder will find their vagina opened by age 1.

 

Today

At the beckoning of a member, I at first resisted going in to the whole debate AGAIN, because it tires me as much as debating with religious people. But after a couple of searches, I've noticed that what was considered completely outlandish only three years ago, has started to make its way into popular culture.

 

What we were calling vaginal tabs, or hymenal tabs, three years ago are now being addressed as the 'corona'. Scarlateen, a well known blog discussing the realities of sex now states:

Often known by the established term “hymen,” the vaginal corona is the subject of many myths and misunderstandings. The most important of these is the notion that a woman’s vaginal opening is covered by a membrane that ruptures with vaginal sex. This is incorrect. There is no such membrane.

 

Other blogs  and forums have now jumped on this new scientific understanding. This is a huge change from three years ago when nothing of this sort existed on the internet.

 

Let us be clear, this new scientific understanding is not coming about by a single bit of 'new' evidence, it is based entirely on debunking historical false religious interpretations and imaginings of missing evidence due to religious bias among scientists. Is it possible that such ridiculous myths were started because fully developed vaginas did not get/need medical attention whereas incompletely developed vaginal openings did get medical attention and so doctors assumed they were the norm? who knows, the reason for the myth is impossible to pin down for sure.

 

Sexology and Repercussions for society

The perpetual misunderstanding of women's vaginas is so embedded in our society that women have been expected to bleed upon first copulation. In Quebec, covered under national healthcare, Muslim women can now get a artificial hymen manufactured from the vaginal wall tissues in order to bleed on their wedding night. Manufacturing a 'hymen' in order to bleed for your husband is no more acceptable to me than circumcision or FGM. Yet in the USA, it is a cosmetic surgery which is also gaining in popularity, not only among Muslims but among Christians as well.

 

Let us be clear, bleeding upon first intercourse is an uncommon occurrence, and most sexologists now attribute bleeding for normally developed women to two degrees of physical unpreparedness:

1-Lack of life preparation (chronic)

Girls raised in cultures where virginity is still valued (rollseyes) are told to hold back from sports like cycling and horseback riding, and other rough sports, in case they should "break their hymen". These girls are also told never to masturbate and to not use tampons, all of which could all 'break the hymen", as if!!! Conversely, one can easily imagine that a young girl who never opened her legs, never once spread her lips, never once poked around, never did any rough sport, yes one could imagine that she'd be slightly dysfunctional!!!!!

2-Lack of immediate preparation (acute)

Girls and boys who haven't received appropriate sex ed (whether parental, school or peers) simply do not know how to go about sex. Any un-prepped female who is inexpertly penetrated by a dry penis (or fingers) can bleed, at any age, no matter one's sexual experience. It is sensitive skin and should be treated lovingly and cherished.

 

As for girls who are unfortunate enough to fall into the "incomplete development' category. They have challenges, through appropriate sex ed, in order to not experience trauma at first intercourse, they need to make a an additional effort at knowing their vagina, and training the remaining encroaching corona to give way. This is the same as for boys with phymosis. If one waits until adult life to correct the situation, one will experience problems. In very rare cases where the vaginal opening is so incompletely developed as to impede menstrual flow, there is a need for medical intervention. In such girls, if penetration is attempted, and the vaginal opening is injured, there can be significant blood loss.

 

As we meander through the literature on this topic, of course the word hymen will retain predominance for several years. But as better un-biased knowledge is spread, the occurrence of the word will diminish.

 

Let's here it for the Corona! One small step for science, one giant leap for women!

 

Views: 1049

Replies to This Discussion

Have you ever discussed Hymens with Female friends? lol. I'm sorry but it sounds to me like you are coming up with one of the most unusual excuses I've ever heard to diss on religion.

 

I spent my youth horseriding, playing many sports, and being about as physical as a girl could be(I was A heptathlete, who got into an Aussie team, during my athletic career...very sporty). My first penatrative sexual encounter, came AFTER a great deal of non penetrative sexual enjoyment, to the point my vagina was dribbling and dripping all over the place. (young lubricated females...lol!! haha)

 

There goes your first 2 theories.

 

As for your 3rd, A Rare developmental abnormality? ALL of my friends, are exactly the same way and yes we discussed it at great length when we were teens. Most were athletic, they had all had boyfriends who never rushed sex, and felt the same thing I did. Our first encounter, you feel a push, a Tearing sensation, sharp pain, then you bleed. Even prior to sex, My partner could feel my hymen, and he would point it out to me.."There it is". Lol!!

 

Why we have hymens, what they are caused by, no doubt is still quite a mystery. The fact that this is used in a terrible way against women, is again very much a problem that one can recognize. Trying to change the name of the hymen into something else, is superfluous. But I am dumbfounded, honestly that you have never in all your research and discussions with women come across women who bled during sex the first time. I haven't YET met a woman who didn't, and who didn't experience the sensation of a sharp tearing pain.

 

You sound like one of the rare lucky ones. And although your heart might be in the right place, I would have hated my first sexual encounter with a male, to be with a male that was ignorant of what will happen.

 

I'm honestly wondering if this post is some kind of Joke, or trolling exercise? I hope not, cause if so I just made a fool of myself. lol!!

Yes I have discussed this, not with 10, not with 20, not with 30, but nearly 100 women, in the past three years, relatives, friends, acquaintances, around drinks.

 

This is no joke, in a couple of years, we'll be saying corona instead of hymen. THE hymen refers to THE "membrane" covering the vagina opening. Membrane and covering are the erroneous terms. A Corona much better expresses the reality of shape variability.

 

You might want to read-up on rape forensics.

 

Bleeding is reported by a minority of women, you were the unlucky ones. If I understand you correctly you never had any penetrations, at all before your first copulation?

Lol what kind of penetrations are you talking about? Fingers? Tampons? Yes of course. Tampons were very difficult to use prior to sex.

 

It's called a Hymen. The hymen refers to the flap of skin within the entrance of the vagina that is torn when a male enters a woman for the first time. There is no need to change the language. Why would you want to?

 

I'd love to hear your theories on how for thousands and thousands of years, there was a recognition within every society, regardless of religion or circimstance that a female bled the 1st time she had sex.

 

If they bled EVERYTIME during sex, due to lack of preparation, then an entirely different myth would have been formed.

 

Your conspiracy theory doesn't deserve the attention I'm giving it, and my friend who prosecutes phedophilic rapists(And uses a newly torn hymen as evidence), would probably like to gut and gatter you right now.

Wow, congratulations on your debating skills, I am so impressed.

I never mentioned any conspiracy, only the ever self-correcting nature of science.

Wow.  What a discussion.  I'm going to have to stew on this a little to really comment, but I will attest that I never experienced any bleeding or tearing.  I have often considered that the hymen makes no sense embryologically.  And now that I am thinking about it, I have penetrated about 6 virgins (when I was younger:)), and I didn't come across any hymens.  Hmm...

I substituted stewing by making a call to Michael Reed, Ph.D, ELD HCLS (ABB).  He confirmed that the hymen does exist, but is misunderstood.  He explained that the internal and external parts of the reproductive tract develop separately, and that the hymen is what is left between these devoping entities.  He described it more as a "door frame" between the two, and said it is frequently not anywhere near intact, even at birth.  Thus, your idea of a "corona." 

 

He went on further to tell me (who should have remembered this) that guinea pigs have one that regrows in between ovulation cycles. 

 

He also offered that the debate was centered around the mass confusion that the hymen is a simple membrane that separates the outer and inner genitalia, and is a barrier that must be disrupted for intercourse.  Obviously, it is more complicated than that, and different in each individual.

And I'm happy Homo sapiens are completely unrelated to guinea pigs!

The point of using a new word to demonstrate a new understanding is not contradicted here. Discussions surrounding 'hymen' lead to emphasis on it being a separate structure, with a 'purpose'. Whereas shifting our usage to 'vaginal corona' (as opposed to beer Corona :) is much more precise scientifically as those cells in humans are undistinguished from vaginal wall cells, and simply a embryological remnant, usually resorbed, by age of reproduction. This topic has so many sociological implications and women would greatly served by a shift in outlook in this matter.

Oh, I agree with that.  I am always for more precise nomenclature. 

 

And the sociological implactions are astounding.  You know what makes me sick about all this virginity bullshit?  Daddy/daughter dances.  The father promises to watch over her virginity and all that stuff, and the girl gets a promise ring.  If I don't shut up now, I'm going to start typing in all caps!  SICK!

 

I'm going to start a discussion on this topic.

Growl! :P

"In Quebec, covered under national healthcare, Muslim women can now get a artificial hymen manufactured from the vaginal wall tissues in order to bleed on their wedding night."

 

This is disgusting, I live in Canada, and the medical system won't even prescribe me permanent hair removal treatment despite my severe phobia of hair (especially my hated beard) that causes intense anxiety and suicidal depression. It is not even a cosmetic issue when it is this severe, and yet it is not covered while something like the above is? There is no fairness, no justice. This leads me to wonder was the 'circumcision' done to me also paid for by the medical system... no I think I remember that my parents paid a Rabbi $30 or something to do the mutilation as 'commanded by god.'

 

Still why the FRACKING HELL do people cut their most sensitive body parts... it's even worse when they do it to someone who has no choice in the matter. I still find it amazing how circumcision goes on in this country when it is really the worst form of semi-institutionalized child rape/mutilation.

Well, at least circumcision has substantially dropped in Canada, but we cannot let go of the bit, there are still plenty of people fighting FOR circumcision and it's non scientifically evidenced justifications and if we let down our guard in the least we will quickly lose ground.

Interesting topic...

 

I was going to ask what the evolutionary purpose would be, but I'm quickly coming to realize that so long as a change doesn't negatively affect reproduction the mutation will spread.  Simply put evolution is so impersonal that even disease causing mutations wouldn't be a serious reproductive worry so long as they occur after the main reproductive years for our predecessors.  Just give the parent a long enough time to survive, or failing that the group raises the child after the parent dies. 

 

It does make me wonder what it was like for our ancestors though.  

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