A lot of people have heard of hymens, but surprisingly, very few people actually know what a hymen is. This is why we have decided to somewhat decipher the idea of a hymen. We are hoping that, by the end of this page, you will be pretty well educated on what hymens actually are. You will understand their function, and whether breaking a hymen is actually a painful experience.
So, without further ado, let’s jump in with the first question; what is a hymen?
What is a Hymen?
Now, we are hesitant to say this (and you will see why shortly), but a hymen tends to only exist on virgins. Now, having a hymen does not necessarily mean that you are a virgin, neither does it mean that not having one means that you have lost your virginity. However, for the sake of explanation, let’s say a ‘virgin’.
If you look at the vagina of a virgin, there will likely be a thin layer of skin around the opening. Hymens do look different, but this thin layer of skin may not even be noticeable in most people. It will have a hole in it (in most cases).
The hymen doesn’t actually serve any purpose in a woman. Well, at least not after they have been born. In fact, we do not actually know why the hymen exists in the first place. Many scientists do believe that the purpose of the hymen is to help protect the vagina of a fetus while it is growing inside of the mother but, even then, we still do not actually know whether it serves that purpose. All we know is that it is that is pretty useless. Having a hymen intact doesn’t mean that you are more protected from vaginal diseases than somebody that lost their hymen a long time ago.
What Does a Hymen Look Like?
You see, this is a tough question to answer. This is because every hymen looks different. Drastically different. We will give some examples in the next section, just to clear things up a little bit.
The hymen is just a small amount of tissue around the vagina. That is it. You can think of it as a piece of skin. So, imagine a piece of skin that isn’t really covering anything other than a hole and you pretty much have the answer to this question.
Most hymens will be quite ‘stretchy’ i.e. you can move them around a little bit. They will almost always have a hole in them too, although some hymens may even have multiple holes. As we said, it is all about the woman. There is no ‘right’ answer to what a hymen is supposed to look like. We can assure you that barring one type of hymen (we will talk more about that in the next section), the hymen of a woman is always going to be ‘normal’.
Your hymen doesn’t ever disappear either. It is always going to be there (unless you have it surgically removed) and over time, the look of the hymen will change shape, color, and even thickness. This doesn’t mean that it is has been ‘used’ too much. Quite the contrary. These things do change as you get older, even if you have never had sex or used a tampon. If you look at your hymen a few years from now, it probably won’t look the same as it does today.
Different Types of Hymen
Since there are so many different types of hymen, we can’t mention them all here. The type of hymen that you have will be completely different from that of another woman. What we will do, however, is go through some of the more ‘typical’ types of hymen and provide a few tips when a particular hymen type may be a cause for concern.
Now, for obvious reasons, we are a bit hesitant to label something as a ‘normal’ hymen. This is because is no such thing as a normal hymen. So, we suppose the best way of looking at it is a ‘typical’ hymen.
The typical hymen will cover the vaginal opening. However, there will be a sizeable hole in the center of the hymen. This will allow a woman to easily enter tampons without there being that much of an impact on the hymen. It will also allow period blood to flow out freely.
Believe it or not, no hymen is actually a type of hymen! While most women will be born with a hymen, it is still perfectly normal to have no hymen. It will have absolutely no adverse impact on your life. It is the whole ‘no hymen’ thing that results in many people wondering what the purpose of a hymen is in the first place. If somebody can be born with absolutely no hymen, then surely this means that it doesn’t even serve a purpose in the womb?
This is the type of hymen that may actually cause some issues. Thankfully, it is very rare.
If you have an imperforate hymen, it means that there is literally no hole in the hymen. It fully covers the vaginal opening. Because of this, blood cannot leave the vagina. If you have ever had a period, then you do not have an imperforate hymen.
Of course, having an imperforate hymen doesn’t mean that your reproductive system completely shuts down. Your body will still go through the cycle. However, because blood cannot come out of the vagina, it starts to collect behind the hymen. This can eventually result in serious pain.
In most cases, a person will be diagnosed with an imperforate hymen when they are a baby. However, it is going to be diagnosed at puberty at the latest. This is when periods start, and it won’t be long before the blood starts to pool.
Thankfully, an imperforate hymen tends to be an easy problem to fix. The hymen just has to be opened up, and it is a procedure that probably takes no more than a few minutes. It is probably not going to hurt either.
This is similar to an imperforate hymen. However, there will be a small opening on the hymen. A tiny opening, but an opening nonetheless. This is going to be enough to allow blood to leave the vagina, but you would struggle to be able to put a tampon into the vagina. The opening is going to be ridiculously small.
Most people with a microperforate hymen will never know they have one until they either use tampons or start to have sex. The hole on a hymen like this should start to open up naturally as the hymen is stretched. That being said, there are still some people that will need to have their hymen opened up by a doctor.
With this type of hymen, there isn’t just one hole. There will be several holes. These holes will likely be tiny, but they will let the blood flow out from a period still. These holes are going to be too small to put a tampon in. Sex will be almost impossible too. It is likely that the only way to deal with this problem is to have a hymenectomy i.e. the doctor will surgically open up the hymen.
This type of hymen is going to be very similar to a normal hymen. However, instead of one large hole, there are two. There will be a small amount of tissue between these two holes. There is a chance that this tissue may break during intercourse or while using a tampon. However, most women will probably need to have the hymen opened up under surgery.
Does It Hurt When Your Hymen Breaks?
It shouldn’t do. No.
A hymen is a piece of tissue. This tissue has some blood cells in it, but there are not any nerves inside of the hymen itself. This means that many women won’t even notice that their hymen has ever been broken. There is literally no pain sensors in the hymen at all. It is not connected to anything. When most people experience pain with the hymen breaking, it is actually just the pain of having sex for the first time which can, of course, be a little bit sore.
Now, we are not saying that it may not hurt in some cases. However, we can assure you, the cases where it does end up hurting are so minimal that you probably will never have to worry about it. That being said, we do want to share a couple of tips with you to help relieve the potential pain if you are really, really concerned about there being any issues.
If You Are Concerned About Pain, Try This
You should be as gentle as possible.
It is likely that a woman’s hymen will have stretched long before she even gets close to having sex for the first time. If you are concerned about potential pain in the future, then you could masturbate a little bit. You will be able to control the pace of something going into the vagina. This will allow you to stretch the hymen over time. This is a relatively pain-free approach.
If you are worried about dealing with pain the very first time that you have sex, then don’t worry too much. It is unlikely that there will be any pain due to the hymen stretching. However, if you are concerned then, once again, go slow. Let the vagina get properly lubricated i.e. lots of foreplay. When the time comes to put the penis into the vagina, then it needs to be gentle. Not just forcing it into the hole.
Honestly, that is all that you really need to do. The hymen has to be stretched somehow (in most cases), and being as slow and gentle as possible while it is being stretched is pretty much the only thing that you will be able to do if you are really, really concerned about there being some pain.
We do encourage you to look at the type of hymen that you have too. If you believe that you do not have a ‘normal’ hymen i.e. it is one of the types of hymen that we listed previously, then it may be wise to consult with a doctor. They will be able to open up the hymen for you. This means that when it comes to sex, there won’t be any pain due to your hymen at all. It will have already stretched.
Does a Woman Always Bleed When She Has Sex for the First Time?
Some people imagine that when a woman has sex for the first time, there will be a gushing of blood pouring out from the hymen as it is torn. This is a myth.
Many women will not bleed when they have sex for the first time. By the point that they get around to having sex for the first time, their hymen may already have stretched to the point where it is not going to really prevent the penis from getting in there anyway.
As we said before, the hymen is mostly a collection of blood vessels. Obviously, when the hymen stretches, there is a small chance that these blood vessels may break. This may cause a small amount of bleeding. We are talking small amounts of spotting here. Many people may not even notice that there is any blood down there. They will be too into sex.
If the vagina is leaking huge amounts of blood, then that could indicate an issue, and we are certain that this is not going to be an issue with the hymen.
How Do You Know If Your Hymen is Still There?
Your hymen is never going to leave. We can assure you, your hymen is still going to be there. It may look different over time, but it will still be there. Well, that is assuming that you were born with a hymen in the first place. Some women do not have hymens.
To determine what your hymen currently looks like, you will need a hand mirror. If you part your legs, the hymen will be the thin layer of skin that covers the vaginal opening i.e. the very small bit of tissue around the vagina. How it appears will be dependent on the type of hymen that you were born with, as well as whether you have had sex, masturbated, or if you use tampons. As we have said numerous times already, there is no one way that your hymen will look.
Don’t worry about whether you can see a hymen or not. Many women are not able to see their hymens! This will apply even if you are a virgin.
Does Having a Hymen Mean You Are a Virgin?
Now, for starters, we do actually want to clear up a common misconception here. A lot of people seem to believe that once you have sex, a hymen is going to disappear. That is not the case. Hymens do not disappear. You aren’t going to have sex and see a hymen sitting around in the bed.
The hymen will exist, but the hole will get larger. The shape of the hymen may even end up changing. It is still going to be there. Although, as the years go on, it is going to start to ‘wear’ down a little bit (this will happen even if you never have sex!), and eventually it will stop being as noticeable.
Therefore, having a hymen does not indicate that somebody is a virgin. You can have sex hundreds of times in a year and you will still have a hymen, it will just have a slightly changed appearance (which is not even going to be noticeable to most people)
Even a changed hymen doesn’t necessarily indicate that somebody has had sex. Anything that causes pressure around the vagina will have an impact on the hymen. For example, using tampons, masturbation, or even horseriding.
Honestly, anybody that looks at a vagina to determine whether somebody is a virgin or not is never going to be 100% certain. There is no way to tell that somebody is a virgin. Hell, there are some women that are not even born with a hymen, which goes to show just how unreliable looking at a vagina actually is for determining virginity.
While the hymen is dressed up to be some magical thing that signifies a woman is still a virgin, this is pretty much never going to be the case. The same as there being any sort of pain when the hymen stretches. Hell, there probably won’t be any bleeding. For the most part, unless you have a fully closed-up hymen, the hymen is literally something that you will never, ever have to worry about. It is a useless piece of tissue that is left over from when you were still a growing fetus. It holds no use beyond that.