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 Post subject: Virginity – the facts
 Post Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:07 am 
Virginity – the facts : The Hymen & Virginity

@The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka
Dr. (Mrs.) Sriani Basnayake


The Sri Lankan custom of a bride having to prove that she is a virgin on her wedding night is still prevalent among all strata of society. Many brides suffer untold misery and unhappiness from the beginning of their marriage, if they did not bleed at first intercourse. This is because most Sri Lankans are still under the mistaken belief that all virgins will bleed at first intercourse, and that a girl who does not bleed, has had sexual intercourse previously.

Today in Sri Lanka, there are still hundreds of brides who have to take a white cloth with them on their honeymoon. In our culture, the production of a blood stained cloth is accepted as a certificate of the bride’s virginity. This is an unreliable and an unscientific test, and many an innocent girl has had to suffer in vain due to the prevailing primitive custom and the ignorance & misconception on this subject that still prevail in our society.

Therefore, it is very important for people to have scientific information about the hymen and virginity.

Who is a Virgin?

A virgin is a girl who has never had sexual intercourse, and not necessarily a girl who bleeds at first intercourse, as believed by many people. It is important for everyone to know that approximately 20% - 25% of virgins will not bleed at first intercourse, due to structural variations in their hymen.

What is the hymen?

The hymen is a thin elastic membrane partially closing the entrance to the vagina. It has an opening which can vary in size, through which menstrual blood flows out each month. The hymen is not known to serve any useful purpose. It usually tears at the first intercourse, leaving a few peripheral tags. This may cause slight bleeding.

Lack of a hymen, or absence of bleeding at first intercourse is no proof that a girl is not a virgin. She may have been born without it, have had a very lax hymen, or it may have got stretched or broken accidentally during vigorous physical exercise. It should be noted that engaging in sports or games does not necessarily damage the hymen. This is a rare occurrence.

Hence, it is very important for people to be aware of the fact that a girl could be a virgin, and still not bleed the first time she has sexual intercourse.

The bleeding that occurs at first intercourse may be very slight, just a stain, or considerable, but never dangerous. It is not true that some girls suffer such a massive haemorrhage that necessitates hospitalization.

A girl may experience slight pain or discomfort during the first intercourse. Many people assume that the pain associated with the first penetration is the result of the rupturing of the hymen. The pain however is more likely to be the result of fear and ignorance. When a girl is tense and fearful, she will contract the perineal muscles, and this will cause the vaginal opening to be narrowed and restricted, causing pain during attempted penetration.

Lack of sexual knowledge, and too hasty insertion of the penis without adequate foreplay, will add to the tightening of the muscles at the vaginal opening. Foreplay and adequate sexual arousal of the woman causes increased vaginal secretions and lubrication, which greatly facilitates entry into the vaginal passage. When there is insufficient lubrication, or when initial attempts at intercourse are somewhat painful or uncomfortable, the use of a lubricant cream has been found to be beneficial.

Is it possible for a virgin to become pregnant?

Yes. If seminal fluid is deposited around the vaginal orifice, even without actual intercourse taking place, sperms can travel through the opening in the hymen and into the womb. It is rare, but can occur.


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