The facts

So what are the facts about the hymen? If you have always been told differently, this information may be confusing.

In most cases the hymen is not a closed tissue but only is a fringe of tissue. This fringe can have many different shapes, smooth or irregular, thick or thin. In rare cases (1 out of 2000) the tissue does cover the vagina. This leads to complications as the menstrual blood cannot flow out of the body. A simple medical procedure is needed. Many girls do not lose any blood when they have sex with a boy for the first time. Some girls do bleed. Bleeding or not bleeding does not reveal whether the girl is a virgin or not.

Klick on image to see where the hymen is located.
These pictures are from MBO schools (Dutch vocational schools)


The hymen and virginity are not related

George Maat

(Prof. dr. George J.R. Maat)

It all starts when the human body is formed in the womb of an expecting mother. During the first stages of growth the cavities of a child are not in contact with the outside world. This is true for the cavities of all organs in both men and women: the intestines, for instance. For women this includes the pelvic cavity, where the ovaries are located alongside the lateral wall of the uterus.

At a later stage, the inner linings of all these cavities need to be opened, in order to bring the cavities into contact with the outside world. This occurs at those places where the outer lining of the body is nearest. At these locations the thin layer between the internal and external world consist of a thin layer of inner lining of the body cavity, a layer of connective tissue and an outer layer of bodily tissue, for instance skin.

During growth, small holes are formed and develop into an opening. This occurs in the tissue covering the entrance of the intestines (in the back of the mouth), the exit of the intestines (anus), and of course, with the tissue covering the ‘exit’ of the female genitals. The latter is called the hymen. As this happens, it creates a connection between the pelvic cavity in which the ovaries are located, and the outside world. Otherwise, children could not be born.

In most cases, a flexible fringe of tissue remains, often less. This can also be the case for the anal and oral cavity. For this very reason, a doctor examines a baby’s throat after birth, as left over tissue could complicate breathing.

The so called hymen/fringe/left over tissue has no relation whatsoever with virginity.


Interesting website, a Rutgers website with information about sexual health in 16 languages.





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