The hymen is a thin, delicate membrane. You can compare it to skin but much thinner and consisting of elastic and fibrous tissue. It partially covers the opening (introitus) of the vagina in most girls. It is a remnant from the development as a foetus, of the membranes of the vagina and urogenital sinus at their point of fusion.
In younger women, the hymen is very vascular. In menopausal women it has become very thin. In adult virginal women, the hymen surrounds the vaginal opening more or less completely.
Function Of The HymenThe biological function of the human hymen is still uncertain. Scientists hypothesize that it protects the vagina from infection in infants. It has to be incomplete, in order to allow the outflow of menstrual blood at the onset of puberty.
The social function of the hymen, however, has been and still is a mythical symbol of virginity in many cultures.
Rupture Of The HymenRupture of the hymen normally occurs during first intercourse (coitus) or rape. But many girls and teens tear, or otherwise dilate, their hymen for instance:
- During sports like bicycling, horseback riding, gymnastics etc.
- Inserting tampons.
A girl may not even be aware that a hymen tear has occurred, since there may be little or no blood loss, nor pain.
The Hymen usually tears posteriorly or posterolaterally into two or more portions. Commonly, rupture of the hymen is accompanied by slight bleeding, which stops spontaneously. Occasionally, a larger vessel can bleed profusely, possibly even leading to shock and requiring a blood transfusion. Even in severe cases, bleeding can usually be controlled by applying direct pressure to the bleeding point. Only very rarely surgical assistance is required.
In case of a wide or elastic hymen, the hymen may not be lacerated even with repeated coitus, particularly in case of a thin penis. In fact, many cases of pregnancy have been reported in women in whom the hymen has not been ruptured.
Restoring an Intact HymenIt is not possible to determine whether a woman is a virgin based on the state of her hymen. Nevertheless, religious, cultural, or societal pressures may oblige a woman to have her hymen restored. Whatever the reason for the procedure, a woman can consult a qualified plastic surgeon and have all of her concerns addressed in a private, confidential manner.
Hymen surgerySimple repair: Restoring the hymen consists of piecing together the remnants by closing the tear. It is a very simple procedure that must be done three to seven days before the wedding.
The tissue is simply pulled together. The result is not meant to last. In this type of surgery, definite healing is rare because the hymen is relatively avascular.
Alloplant: A Tear-through biomaterial can be inserted. This is also a temporary measure, carried out shortly before marriage in certain cultures.
Hymen reconstruction: When the hymenal remnants are insufficient and definitive repair is envisaged by approximating the undermined hymen remnants or a vaginal flap. This produces vascular bands across the introitus.
- The procedure can be done under local anaesthetic and as a day case surgery.
- The process takes one to two hours, and patients can return to work the next day.
- The sutures are dissolvable.
- Most patients are very happy indeed after having had hymen restoration surgery.
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