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: 1034

Replies to This Discussion

How old were you, what was your penetrative experience (fingers, tampons, toys), what was your activity level, was the male circumcised, what was the male size, did the male prep you, did you prep, what was your relationship/level of attractiveness, for how long had you been menstruated?

I was 17. Essentially no penetrative experience.  I was not athletic.  He was circumcised.  He is larger than average.  I'm not quite sure what you mean by "prep" but there was sufficient foreplay for lubrication, if that's what you're getting at.  It was about 4 months into a good relationship and I was very attracted to him (still am, six years later we're still together).  I had been menstruating for almost five years.

 

There was what I would estimate to be a tablespoon or two of blood.  It was not similar to menstrual blood (brownish and thick) but red and quick to coagulate, like blood from a wound.  I did not continue to bleed after the single...umm..gush?  It has never happened again, even when having sex for the first time after several months without penetration.

 

ETA:  Both my female roommates bled the first time they had sex.  It was painful for one and not for the other.  I don't have nearly as many details on them.

The evidence of "no penetrative experience, not athletic, circumcision, larger than average" go a long way in explaining a little bleeding. When I am with guys who are larger than average and their aim is a little off, I still, 35 years later, experience great pain and a few drops of blood, but NOT from the vagina :) ... from the perineum.

 

The perineum, the very delicate and sensitive skin between the anus and the vagina, is prone to tears and slight bleeding. I did not address perineal bleeding in the OP but it would have been a good idea. I suspect a great many males having sexual intercourse for the first few times don't spend much of that time with their face/eyes right there and unless the female uses a mirror, it is not easy to determine whether the bleeding is vaginal or perineal, it's a matter of millimetres. As you probably have realised with experience, a circumcised guy need only miss by a half an inch to cause great pain... Conversely, this is less an issue if the guy is intact since the foreskin provides protective gliding motion and allows for a margin of error.

 

Thanks for candid participation.

This reply made me smile.  Sometimes it is so great to be gay!  But don't think I haven't been done until I bled.  Nothing near a tablespoon or even a teaspoon, but it happens.  Sometimes girls get carried away.

 

I love this topic because I had always wondered about what different women experienced.  So interesting.

I talked to my best friend (who is predominately straight) and she said she diid bleed and experience intense pain the first time she had sex.  She had used tampons, and explored with fingers and such, and she said she was lubricated and the guy took his time and was very gentle.  She added that she bled for a short period of perhaps 20 minutes following the whole episode.  And she said she never experienced that type of thing again.

Wrong.  That is something I am very familiar with.  (I am still having sex with this large penis and often after several months of abstinence, so it's pretty common.)  While that does cause some bleeding, in order for there to have been as much blood as when I lost my virginity, he would have had to rip me wide open. (I said tablespoons, not drops.)  Additionally, when I experience perineum tearing, light bleeding and significant discomfort continue for hours or days.

Hey TNT666 found something I think will help!!

 

http://www.youtube.com/user/carlincherrybomb#p/u/2/PaKsEwQKF_E

 

I love these ladies!!

Thanks for that, they're greeeeeaaaaaaaat!

It's kind of exciting to be a part of a changing trend in biological knowledge don't you think?!  The fact that this is not based on new research, but instead simply based on taking religion out of biology, taking the dogma out of the lack of evidence! In a few years we'll be looking back on Homo sapien's 'hymen years' and having a good giggle! and a collective sigh or relief! This is not just some small detail, it's a major component of human's value system! (and not just Christians) So much of our culture about being a female is centred around virginity!

It is pretty awesome!! Although sad to think that the reason people believed that the only reason a woman was a virgin was because she bled her first time having sex.

Because it just meant the man didn't know what he was doing or the woman wasn't ready. And if you think about it since girls were married so much younger back then and the way men treated women - the girls in question were not bodily mature enough for sex nor were they ever likely ready.

It's good to know that silly religious dogma's won't govern this aspect of what we know of the female body anymore. Not for thinking people anyway!

Thanks for putting this information up. I had significant pain and bleeding when I first had intercourse, and I always thought it was from the hymen, but this makes much more sense.
Just remember there is a very small percentage, less than 1% of women, who actually do have medical issues due to an unopened or incompletely open vagina. It's really a matter of quality sex education in schools and educating parents on these realities also. One should have an intimate knowledge of one's own anatomy, above and beyond what our family doctor thinks he knows about it :)

The last medical text I read said the evolutionary purpose of the hymen was to protect the vagina from infection.  In the very young child it should cover the opening nearly completely.  By the time the child is out of diapers and aged sufficiently to take care of personal hygiene,  the hymen starts to thin and shrink.  The longer you wait for first intercourse or the more active physically the less likely to have pain or bleeding but as with many biological things,  it varies between individuals. 

I think it is horrible that religions have turned the first sexual experience of spiritual marriage into something that glorifies maximizing the amount of pain and blood experienced by the female.   The younger the female is the more pain and bleeding typically experienced.    I'll try to find the medical text to give you an actual reference if you are interested in the science.  I don't disagree that science is often influenced by personal beliefs.  But as someone that was raped at 10 and has an obviously torn hymen visible even now, I have to disagree with your basic premise based on personal experience as well.

 

I think it is horrible that religions have turned the first sexual experience of spiritual marriage into something that glorifies maximizing the amount of pain and blood experienced by the female.

Certainly it's horrible, but you can't seriously tell me that it surprises you in any way.  :-D

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