Here’s What You Should Know About the Hymen

Image Credit: Instagram

Too many people – women included – don’t understand the female body well enough (or at all). The recent revelation that rapper T.I. asks his daughter’s doctor to check her hymen to ensure her virginity on a yearly basis is the (extremely disgusting and invasive and inappropriate) proof. And the fact that so many people support him makes a lot of women very uncomfortable.

In case you’re someone who would like to know more, or who would like to be able to educate other people who should know more, here’s some general information for all of us about a part of the female body.

First up, fact check: the presence of an attached hymen does not indicate whether or not a woman has had vaginal intercourse.


View this post on Instagram

"We have yearly trips to the gynecologist to check her hymen."⁣??‍♀️ ⁣ Yup, TI the rapper said this on a podcast recently.⁣ I can’t make this up. ⁣ If he would have come into my office asking for this I would have laughed in his face. But seriously, there are a lot of people that don't know that you actually can't tell if a woman is a virgin or not just based on an exam. It just doesn't exist.⁣❌ ⁣ ⁣So what is the hymen? It is a thin piece of tissue that covers the opening of the vagina. The hymen can stretch or tear as a result of various behaviors, by tampon or menstrual cup use, pelvic examinations with a speculum, regular physical activity, sexual intercourse, insertion fingers or items into the vagina, and activities such as gymnastics. There are different types and shapes.⁣ ⁣ When a dad puts their daughter in this predicament then she can't trust him. He is humiliating her and possibly making her hide things behind his back. In this case it is making his daughter and other women believe that sex is bad and is not healthy. Her outlook on sex is totally different now and possibly gives her a subconscious thought to thinking that controlling her is ok. She also will possibly view going to the gynecologist or any doctor for that matter as a bad experience, and that could potentially have health consequences for her future. ⁣ So how do we tell if someone is a virgin or not? ⁣ You ask them! ⁣? That's it.⁣ Plan and simple. ⁣ Communication is key as a human being, between friends, between father and daughter, mother and son, doctor and patient.⁣?? ⁣ Let's learn from this and hope that in this century we can dispell myths on virginity, what sex means and hope that women are not scared to see doctors for their health concerns. I hope his daughter can overcome this and have a healthy sexual relationship in her future, because she is after all 18 years old and an adult!⁣ ⁣ FYI, In October 2018, the UN Human Rights, UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that virginity testing must end as it is a painful, humiliating and traumatic practice, constituting violence against women. Let’s end this violence! Keeping it real! Dr. E

A post shared by ✨Erica Montes, M.D.✨ (@the.modern.mujer) on

The hymen is a thin piece of membranous tissue that partially covers the vaginal opening. It’s usually half-moon shaped, but every body is different. The general belief is that when a woman has sex for the first time the hymen is “broken,” but in truth, it’s typically stretched and only sometimes torn.

Again, that doesn’t happen for everyone.

Not only that, but some girls are born with open hymens, some don’t have one at all, and others naturally stretch or tear their hymens through activities like gymnastics, exercise, or horseback riding – even using tampons, menstrual cups, and regular gynecological exams could cause stretching and/or tearing.

The idea that if a woman is a virgin she’ll bleed the first time she has sex? Also a myth, for the reasons mentioned. Also, even if a woman is a virgin, and even if she has a hymen, her hymen may not bleed if it gets stretched and/or torn.

The bottom line? No one should be examining a woman’s hymen or bedsheets for proof of her virginity, or in order to verify rape allegations – it is useless and can potentially cause physical and psychological harm.

View this post on Instagram

There is NO examination that can prove a girl or woman has had sex. So-called #VirginityTesting is often performed by inspecting the hymen for tears or its size of opening, and/or inserting fingers into the vagina (the “two-finger” test). It must NEVER be carried out! Say NO to virginity testing! #EndViolence

A post shared by World Health Organization (@who) on

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) condemn virginity testing for those reasons and because, in some countries, if an unmarried woman is determined to not be a virgin, she may be publicly shamed, beaten, and imprisoned. Not to mention she may be more likely to consider suicide – or even be murdered.

“The practice is a violation of the victim’s human rights and is associated with both immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to her physical, psychological, and social well-being. The harmful practice of virginity testing is a social, cultural, and political issue, and its elimination will require a comprehensive societal response supported by the public heath community and health professionals.”

Also, the concept of virginity itself might be a topic for another day, but this bears repeating: virginity is a social construct, and, in most cases, a holdover from a very different time. A time when women were controlled like property by the men in their lives, and a time before we had technology that could address concerns like paternity and inheritance.

Whether or not a woman has had sexual intercourse has no bearing on her value to herself, her family, or to society at large.

The sooner we all accept that and stop (literally, in some cases) poking our way into other people’s business, the better off everyone will be.