The female body is beautifully complex. Inside this beautiful body, there is a thin tissue located at the opening of the vagina known as a hymen. Everybody is different and so is the tissue. Some bodies have extremely small tissues that it seems like they do not even have a hymen. These tissues can break or stretch even if some minor physical activities are performed like horse riding, swimming, stretching, and gyming, or even while performing yoga. And in some cases, the hymen remains unaffected even after having sexual intercourse.
As mentioned above, this concept has a couple of flaws, and so does the idea of “breaking your hymen”. Time to clear up a couple of misconceptions about the hymen:
THE HYMEN DOES NOT SEAL THE VAGINA
It’s important to highlight that it only partially covers the vagina because when the woman starts menstruating, the menstrual fluid passes through the vagina. It’s one of the biggest misconceptions that the hymen fully “seal” the opening of the vagina. But if that was the case, then “virgins” couldn’t menstruate, right?
EVERY WOMEN’S VAGINA AND HYMEN ARE DIFFERENT
The hymen can look very different from person to person. The membrane can have many different shapes, some cover more of the opening of the vagina than others. Some are born with a small hymen (meaning it doesn’t cover as much of the vagina), and some are even born without a hymen also.
THE HYMEN DOES NOT HAVE TO BE BROKEN
As mentioned above, the hymen is a membrane that partially covers the vagina. It does not have to be popped, ripped, or poked. It’s pretty elastic type and if your body feels ready to have sex, the penis should simply be able to slide past the hymen, stretching it, but not ripping it.
The same thing goes when you insert your period product. When you’re careful enough, you will simply be able to push it past your membrane.
The most common understanding of “being a virgin” is an intact hymen. That’s why many menstrual cup first-time users are always afraid that introducing an internal period product can break their hymen, which is often understood as “losing virginity”. This myth persists even today, but research has found that the hymen is actually just made up of thin folds of tissue that typically wear away naturally as we go through adolescence. By the time you begin menstruating your hymen generally has holes already, and in many cases is almost gone (as shown in the image). This means that using a cup should have very little effect on your hymen, and in most cases, shouldn’t affect you at all.
Using a menstrual cup can interfere with the hymen, as can a tampon. The hymen can also “break” from doing yoga, dancing, riding a bike, etc. simply living a normal life. If your hymen was stretched or ripped (it only rips when not being gentle), because of anything else than having sex, it does not mean you have lost your virginity in the most common understanding of the concept of virginity.
The type of menstrual product that a person uses shouldn’t be dependent on their status of virginity or their age, but rather on their needs.
For example, if you have a heavy flow and a high cervix, that’s an important consideration in choosing your menstrual product. The Imasafe® Large cup can hold three times of what a super tampon or a pad can hold. So if you have a very heavy period, you should be able to use the product that is most convenient for you.