Hymen is a thin membrane that covers the vaginal opening from inside. It may vary in shapes, with most common being a half-moon shape that allows menstrual blood to flow out through vagina. The hymen has a small opening about the size of your finger. It is usually large enough for you to pass a tampon. You may experience discomfort while using a tampon, but being able to pass it does not mean you have broken your hymen.
How to Know If Your Hymen Is Broken?
In many cultures, hymen is associated with purity of a young woman. That is why many young girls are often concerned about the state of their hymen. Using a flashlight in front of a mirror may help you see inside your vaginal canal. Just lie on your back and place a mirror right between your legs. Spread the inner and outer vaginal lips to see inside your vagina. Using a flashlight will make it easier to see deep inside your vaginal canal. Do you see a thin layer of skin with a small hole in it? Your hymen is most likely in place.
In case you see small traces of broken skin around your vaginal opening without any membrane, this usually means you have already broken your hymen. It may break for many different reasons, so it should not be used as an indicator of virginity. Similarly, if someone has her hymen, it does not mean she is virgin. Hymen may only stretch and not break during an intercourse. HERE are some comparison pictures to help.
What Causes Hymen to Break Besides Sex?
Now, you know how to know if your hymen is broken, but you may want to read about different situations besides sex that may result in broken hymen. For instance:
- You may break your hymen while trying to climb over a fence and tipping or falling on a projective substance.
- Engaging in sports activities like bicycling, horse riding, high jumping, seesaw, etc., may break your hymen.
- Masturbating using fingers or a large object like a vibrator or candlestick may break your hymen.
- Using instruments by doctors during surgical operation may result in breaking of hymen.
- Douching without care may break your hymen.
What to Do If You Have a Torn Hymen
When you learn how to know if your hymen is broken and find your hymen is not intact, do not panic. If you break it during an activity and experience bleeding, apply some ice on the vaginal area. You should avoid using tampons for a while and stay away from engaging in sexual activity for some time. You may want to consult a surgeon who can repair and reconstruct your hymen. It may be expensive and you may again end up breaking it through normal day-to-day activities.
When to See a Doctor
You usually do not experience heavy bleeding when your hymen breaks. You should contact your doctor if you experience heavy bleeding that persists. This may indicate cervical cancer or a vaginal tear. Keep in mind that bleed during an intercourse may be because you break your hymen, but it may also happen due to conditions like cervical polyps, gonorrhea, dysplasia, uterine polyps, vaginal yeast infection, and fibroid tumors. Consult your doctor if you experience serious bleeding during or after an intercourse.
Are All the Hymens the Same? If Not, What Are the Differences?
You already read about how to know if your hymen is broken, but you may not know that hymens can be off different types.
- Annular Hymen: The first image is a perfect example of this type of hymen. It is called annular because it forms a perfect ring around vaginal opening. The hymen may lose its shape with exposure to masturbation and sexual activities.
- Cribriform Hymen: The second image is a good example of cribriform hymen, which is characterized by small holes that allow menstrual fluid to flow out of vagina. This makes tampon insertion and sexual activity a bit difficult.
- Septate Hymen: The third image is of a septate hymen that has bands of tissue. These bands extend across the vaginal opening, but the tissue can be quite rigid and thick. This makes penetrative sex a bit difficult, and you may also find it difficult to insert a tampon. The bands usually break on their own.
- Imperforate Hymen: This type of hymen completely covers the vaginal opening, and it can even stop blood flow during menstruation. It is important to undergo a surgical treatment to correct it, or else menstrual blood will accumulate within the vagina and cause serious health problems, including infections and endometriosis. Only 1-2% of women have this type of hymen.
- Parous Introitus Hymen: This type of hymen is partially or completely gone, and it is common after childbirth.