What is the Hymen For? - Hymen Purpose
The hymen is part of the female anatomy. Although it is not an organ itself, it is part of the female reproductive system and performs specific functions. There are many myths and taboos about the female hymen, especially those related to virginity. This means there are many people who do not know exactly what is the hymen and what is it for? For many young women, as well as any potential partners, the breaking of the hymen is a particularly strange and potentially anxiety-inducing concept.
oneHOWTO is here to ask what is the hymen for? We understand the purpose of the hymen in humans, as well as the different types of hymen. We also explain what to expect when a hymen breaks.
What is the hymen and where is it?
The hymen is a thin membrane made up of tissues with a structure very similar to that of the vagina. As with the vagina, the hymen also has a certain degree of elasticity. Although it is not visible to the naked eye, it is part of the female external genitalia. Specifically, the hymen is in the vulva where it partially closes the external canal of the vagina.
This thin membrane surrounds the entire vaginal opening as a kind of flexible layer. Although it is partly permeable, it ‘seals’ the vagina, but not enough to prevent menstrual fluid to escape. Unless there is a genetic reason why not, the hymen is present in the reproductive organs of women from birth, but can also be found in other animals. Generally, it breaks during the first experience of penetrative sexual intercourse, although there are other possible causes of the hymen breaking.
What is the hymen for?
Many young people wonder what is the purpose of the hymen? As a membrane of connective tissue, the hymen fulfills an important physiological function that has nothing to do with preserving a woman's virginity. The hymen acts as a natural barrier to protect the vagina itself against the action of harmful microorganisms. The presence of the hymen serves to prevent viruses or bacteria from penetrating and triggering different infectious processes.
In this sense, the hymen plays a particularly important role in childhood when the vagina needs maximum protection. As puberty is reached and the female reproductive organs develop their own vaginal flora as defense mechanisms against external agents, the hymen loses some of its function as a protective barrier for the internal reproductive organs. It can do so thanks to the increased immunity of the more-developed individual.
Types of hymen
Not all hymens are exactly the same, since the membrane can present important physiological differences. Such differences depend on the thickness of the tissue, its exact location in relation to the vagina or the perforations that can be seen in it. Although there are multiple types, the most common types of hymen are:
- Pierced hymen: it is the most common and is characterized by the fact that the membrane almost completely covers the entrance to the vagina, forming a covering ring where a single hole can be seen in the central area. This perforation can be more or less circular, elongated or have an irregular shape.
- Partially perforated hymen: in this case, the membrane may have an opening that is somewhat larger than normal, but with a partition of tissue inside that gives rise to two holes. This is known as a septate hymen. The membrane can also have several tiny perforations or holes. This is considered a cribriform hymen and is one of the least frequent.
- Imperforate hymen: it is not very common, but the situation can occur in which the hymen completely seals the opening of the vagina. It does not present any orifice which complicates the arrival of puberty. The gynecologist will have to indicate a treatment or minor surgical measures, such as a hymenectomy. This allows the hymen to be perforated to achieve the normal outflow of the mucous membranes and, above all, of the menstrual flow. with the arrival of menarche (first rule).
Although you will need to speak to a doctor for diagnosis, you can find out more about how to tell if you have an imperforate hymen.
Is it painful when the hymen breaks?
The hymen is a thin membrane, but it is made of connective tissue which contains blood vessels and nerve endings. For this reason, some can experience pain when the hymen breaks for the first time. However, it is not usually overly sensitive and should not provide a prolonged painful experience. As the hymen also contains blood vessels, there is usually the presence of a little blood. This should not be excessive either.
Although bleeding and a little pain is common when the hymen breaks, there are other reasons for these incidences. These can include vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina), infections, trauma and other possible causes. If it is your first time having sexual penetration, a little blood and pain is to be expected. If either are prolonged, you may need to speak to a doctor.
Can the hymen regenerate?
As we have indicated, the hymen usually breaks with the first sexual relations that involve penetration, but it is not the only possible cause. Breakage can also occur accidentally. It is especially common when practicing sports such as cycling or horse riding, but it can even occur when inserting a tampon. When it is broken, the tissues of the hymen do not regenerate naturally, although it is possible to reconstruct it with specific surgical techniques.
These techniques are what is called hymenoplasty and consist of the repair or reconstruction of the fine membrane that covers the entrance of the vagina. For this procedure, it is necessary to make incisions in the broken or torn area and proceed to suture the area. Generally, it is personal, religious or cultural reasons that can make a woman feel that this reconstruction of the hymen is necessary.
If you are experiencing any kind of confusion around your sexual reproductive organs, you should speak to a doctor or trusted adult for advice. You can also find out more information with our article on whether my vagina is normal.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to What is the Hymen For? - Hymen Purpose, we recommend you visit our Family health category.