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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Facts About The Hymen (SEX)

Image result for hymen
"Hymen" derives from the Greek for membrane. Hymen was
also the Greek god of marriage. These two facts summarize
the conventional wisdom about this widely misunderstood
tissue, that this fabled membrane covers the vaginal
opening, and is "pierced," "broken," or "torn asunder" when
women wed and have intercourse, presumably for the first
time.

For thousands of years, many cultures have believed that
"breaking" the hymen caused pain, hence the belief, still
current, that women experience--in fact, should experience--
pain on first intercourse. In addition, some cultures have
believed that if questions arose about a young woman's
virginity, an examination could determine whether she was
or wasn't. An intact hymen demonstrated her virtue while
anything else proved she'd already been deflowered. Many
cultures have also believed that "piercing" the hymen caused
bleeding. In these cultures, shortly after weddings, new
husbands were expected to produce bloody sheets to prove
they'd (1) married virgins, and (2) consummated the
marriage.
Ridiculous. Here's the rare truth about the widely
misunderstood hymen.
For reasons that remain unclear, female babies are born
with membranes surrounding their vaginal openings. Most
hymens are doughnut shaped and open in the center.
Newborns' hymens tend to be prominent and thick. But as
the years pass, most hymenal tissue thins and the opening
widens. During childhood most hymenal tissue wears away
as a result of washing, walking, athletics, self-exploration,
and masturbation, though little bits may remain around the
vaginal opening, particularly in the area closest to the anus
(hymenal tags).
The intact hymen almost never covers the entire vagina. If it
did, virgin girls could not menstruate. However, the opening
may not look like a doughnut hole. In some women, it has a
ladder-like appearance with bands of tissue extending from
one side to the other. In others, it resembles a honeycomb
with multiple small openings. And in rare cases, an
estimated one in 200, the hymen's single opening is so
small that fingers, tampons, and erections may not be able
to enter comfortably or at all (imperforate hymen). For
women with imperforate hymens, a simple surgical
procedure snips away the excess tissue. But in most
women, by adolescence, any remaining hymenal tissue offers
no significant impediment to using tampons or enjoying
pain-free intercourse.
If hymenal tissue has largely worn away by adolescence,
why do so many women experience pain on first
intercourse? The sexological literature is oddly quiet on this
issue. But I have a few ideas:

Pain on intercourse is a fairly common gynecological
problem. It may be caused by many conditions. Some pain
on first intercourse may have to do with medical issues.

Because of the mythology surrounding the hymen, many
(most?) women expect first intercourse to hurt, which may
become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The expectation of pain
causes anxiety, which can turn minor discomfort into pain.

According to the National Health and Social Life Survey
(1994), about one-third of women recall not wanting sex
their first time or recall being forced into it during incest,
sexual assault, or other coercion or exploitation. Exploitive
or assaultive sex can cause tremendous anxiety and produce
or aggravate pain.

Even when women fully consent to first intercourse, an
estimated "75 percent feel unprepared and find their initial
sexual experience distasteful," according to the late sex
therapist Sandra Leiblum, Ph.D. "Young Romeos, even those
who care deeply about their girlfriends, typically lack the
sexual skill and finesse for enjoyable intercourse." Fearful
that women may change their minds, young men often rush
into intercourse before women feel emotionally ready for it,
and before their vaginas have become sufficiently relaxed
and receptive for pain-free intercourse. Once erections enter
young women, the men they're attached to often imitate the
pounding, piston-like action of pornography. Such
mechanical, non-sensual sex can also cause pain.

Even if first intercourse is totally consensual and loving,
sweet, and sensual, natural anxiety around their first time
may interfere with women's release of vaginal lubrication.
Poorly lubricated intercourse also contributes to painful
intercourse.

Residual hymenal tissue may also contribute to discomfort
or pain, but for the vast majority of women, hymen issues
play a minor, if any role in pain on first intercourse (unless
the woman has an imperforate hymen that has not been
reduced beforehand).

Finally, what about all those bloody sheets? Rushed,
nonsensual, poorly lubricated, piston-like intercourse might
abrade sensitive vaginal tissue enough to cause bleeding.

But throughout history, in cultures that have insisted on
female virginity at marriage, the stakes have been very high.
No blood on the sheets deeply dishonored the bride's family
and might even bring charges of marital fraud. Many brides
have taken no chances. Often under their mothers' direction,
they have filed a fingernail to a sharp point and on their
wedding night, cut themselves on the thigh, producing
enough blood to stain the sheets and satisfy tradition--and
the mythology surrounding the hymen.


Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the comment writers alone and does not reflect or represent the views of Victor Duru

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