The hymen is one of the most misunderstood parts of the body, and there are different myths about it and how the hymen works. A common misconception is the said relationship between the hymen and virginity. Most people assume that the hymen only breaks during the first penetrative sex.
This is far from the truth, as the hymen naturally wears down over time. Most times, the hymen develops opening, allowing penetration even before the first sexual intercourse. Different activities, including sexual intercourse, may tear and stretch the hymen, but this does not always result in pain. As you read on, you would find all you should know about the hymen.
Some people with a vagina do not have a hymen
The hymen is a thin tissue surrounding the vagina opening. Although society expects everyone with a vagina to have a hymen, some people are not born with it.
Medically, the hymen is known as a vestige of the vaginal development with no significance outside the womb.
If a hymen is present, you may not feel or see it
It is almost impossible to see your hymen, even if you use a flashlight or mirror. The hymen has the same colour as your vagina, which makes it blend easily with your vagina. Even when you use your fingers, you may not feel it.
If your partner inserts a finger or penis, they will not also feel the hymen
The hymen becomes thin over time
Contrary to common belief, the hymen does not break or pop when you have penetrative sexual intercourse but will stretch over some time. This means that the hymen may be open even if you have not had penetrative sexual intercourse or used a menstrual product that requires insertion.
If the hymen had the structure like many people think, which is a piece of tissue covering the vagina, you would not pass out blood during your period.
A completely closed hymen is referred to as an imperforate hymen, a rare medical condition that requires surgery.
Read more: The Cervical Smear Screening Procedure
Vaginal penetration will not affect people with vaginas in many cases
By the time most people engage in their first vaginal penetrative sex, the hymen must have thinned, probably using tampons and other activities. Although, penetrative sex may cause the hymen to stretch and tear.
Other things can tear the hymen
Several other activities besides penetrative sex can tear the hymen. Sports and several physical activities can stretch your hymen and make them thin. These activities include gymnastics, playing on obstacle courses, dancing, horseback riding, jungle gyms or climbing trees, and riding bicycles.
Vaginal penetration that could stretch and tear the hymen is not limited to sex. Other non-sexual forms of penetration such as getting a Pap smear, inserting a menstrual cup or tampon and getting a transvaginal ultrasound can wear down the hymen.
In some cases, there is vaginal bleeding from tearing of the hymen, and the amount of blood varies between persons. Some people do not bleed when the hymen tears, similar to some people not bleeding the first time they have sex.
The nature of your hymen has no relationship with virginity
The absence of your hymen or its nature has no connection with whether you have had penetrative sex or not. It is impossible to tell whether you are a virgin or not with the nature of your hymen, and not all virgins have unperforated hymens,
Your hymen does not need to be intact when you have sex for the first time. There is no accurate medical procedure to check for virginity, and the concept of virginity is neither biological nor medical.
Discomfort during penetrative sex may be linked to other reasons
Different reasons could make first-time sex hurt. You may feel hurt during first time sex for the following reasons.
- If you feel anxious, your muscles may become tense, making your vagina tighter, resulting in discomfort during penetration
- If the foreplay was not enough to get you wet, the penetration might hurt. The vagina produces its liquid,making sex easier, but the lubricant is not enough in some cases.
- You have certain medications, which make your vagina dry
- You have an underlying condition or infection, which may cause pain
- You are allergenic to the condom or ingredients in the lubricant
These issues are avoidable. In most cases, a first-time penetration is painful, but you may not experience the same.
You may try the following if you are concerned about pain during a sexual activity
If the hymen is present, its stretching or tearing may not hurt, but sex may still be painful if it is your first time. However, you can reduce the pain during penetrative sex if you try the following.
Talk to your partner about how you feel
Talking to your partner about sex can help reduce anxiety, and it may be best to set healthy boundaries regarding sex. If you are not sure about the right thing to say to your partner, you could start the conversation in the following ways.
- I feel nervous about sex. Is it okay for us to talk about it?
- I would like us to talk about boundaries before we start
- I would like us to try this, but I wouldn’t want this.
- Can we start gently and spend more time on foreplay?
Ensure you spend time in foreplay
Indulging in a little foreplay before penetration makes the sex fun, prepares the body for the penetration and helps to calm your nerves.
Your body will realise that you want to have sex during foreplay, so your vagina starts producing its lubricant.
Foreplay is not complicated and includes the following.
- Nipple play
- Listening or watching porn
- Clitoral stimulation
There is no specific amount of time to spend on foreplay, but it should be fun for you and your partner. Taking your time during foreplay helps you know what you like or dislike, and you may want to wait until your vagina produces enough lubricant before penetration.
Use plenty of lubricants
Regardless of how easily you get wet, it would help if you tried using a lube. It helps make penetration less painful and easier. You can apply the lubricant to your vagina, sex toys, finger or partner’s penis before an insertion.
Reconsider a sex position, whether with your partner or alone
If a sex position makes you uncomfortable or hurts, try switching to a different one. For penis-in-vagina sex, missionary position usually feels comfortable. In this position, the person with a vagina lies on their back, while the person with a penis lies facing down on the person with the vagina.
Propping a pillow under your hips can make the missionary position more pleasurable and comfortable for both parties.
If your partner wants to penetrate using a sex toy or finger, try lying on your back, then keep your legs slightly apart.
You should also be mindful of your position when masturbating. If you lie on your back and feel uncomfortable, try standing, kneeling, or squatting. Experimentation, whether you have sex with your partner or alone, is the key to having a pleasurable time.
You can try the following if you experience pain after sexual activity
Different methods are available to relieve the pain you feel after sexual activity. They include:
- Placing a warm compress on your vulva
- Placing an ice pack wrapped with a towel on your vulva
- Having a warm bath
- Taking a non-prescription pain medication like Tylenol
Most times, the discomfort subsides within a few hours.
Speak to your healthcare provider if the pain persists
Having a little discomfort during sex is nothing to worry over, but you may need to see your healthcare provider if you feel persistent or extreme pain. Ensure you visit your medical professional, if:
- The pain is intense or unbearable
- The vaginal pain persists for more than a day
- Your vulva or vagina feels sore, making walking or going about your daily activities difficult
- You experience pain whenever you have sex
The hymen does not usually break at once. In most cases, it gets thin, stretched, then torn over some time. Most people do not feel their vagina tear, but sometimes, it could hurt.
Tearing of the hymen does not always cause pain during penetrative sex, so if penetrative sex always causes you pain, consider visiting your gynaecologist. You can get help for pain during sex and expert advice, treatment by private consultant gynaecologist in London at www.gynae-clinic.co.uk, so contact us today on 020 71831049 to schedule an appointment.