The hymen is a thin membrane surrounding the vagina. It may be in different shapes. If you are in suspicion of a broken hymen, then there are a few things you need to know before making a conclusion.
In this article, we will deal with how to know if your hymen is broken in terms of the symptoms of a broken hymen. Also, you will know what exactly happens when a hymen is broken and whether the hymen can grow back after it is torn.
What does a hymen look like?
- What does a hymen look like?
- What does a broken hymen look like?
- Broken hymen symptoms
- What causes hymen to break (besides sex)?
- What happens when you break your hymen?
- Can your hymen grow back after its torn?
- Different types of hymens
The hymen often has a crescent shape and either partially covers or surrounds the external vaginal opening. The hymen is a part of the external genitalia with the other parts being the vulva and the labia (majora and minora).
While the other parts of the vagina have their specific roles, the hymen does not have a role to play in the physiology of the vagina or the body in general.
Also, while the most common shape of the hymen is crescent, other shapes are also possible. It may appear thick and rigid or thin and stretchy.
The hymen may also not be present at all in some people even before engaging in any activities that may break it.
What does a broken hymen look like?
If you need to know if your hymen is broken, then the first thing to take note of is the shape of the hymen. If you knew the shape of your hymen before and are looking at your vaginal canal to confirm whether the hymen is broken, you need to look for broken pieces of skin at the opening of the vagina.
A hymen has been the symbol of virginity for a very long time. If you just had sex, chances are high that you broke the hymen. The breaking may be accompanied by some light spotting (which is perfectly normal), and some pain which shouldn’t last long.
Broken hymen symptoms
Even with the different types and shapes of the hymen, the symptoms of a broken hymen are similar across the board. You will know if your hymen is broken if you notice the following;
- Light spotting in the vagina.
- Slight pain in the vaginal area.
- Pieces of broken skin in the vaginal opening.
However, this is not always the case in some people since you may not have all the symptoms stated above yet you are highly suspecting a broken hymen.
While a visit to the doctor will tell you whether you have a broken hymen or not, you can also confirm on your own with the following steps;
- Make sure you have a mirror, a chair, a water-based lubricant, and some clean water with soap and a towel.
- Wash your hands using soap and clean water then wear gloves (if you have them). Otherwise, dry off your hands and apply a lubricant on your middle finger.
- Sit on the chair and place the mirror in front of you. Spread out your legs to have the mirror right in front of your vagina.
- Once you can perfectly see the vagina in the mirror, use the index and middle finger of one hand to spread the lips of the vagina as wide as comfortably possible. You can now see the inside of the vagina correctly. You don’t need to see all the way up. Just seeing the opening is enough for this exercise.
- In this position, you should be able to see the hymen as a thin (or thick) layer of skin around the vagina. If not, it should occur as a piece of skin on the vaginal opening towards the anus.
- If you don’t see the hymen or only see broken pieces of skin on the opening of the vagina, then your hymen is definitely broken.
There are cases of a missing hymen from birth. This does not in any way mean that you have a problem since the hymen has no actual role in the body.
What causes hymen to break (besides sex)?
The presence or absence of the hymen is often assumed to be the determinant of virginity in women. However, while having penetrative sex will surely break your hymen, there are other causes of a broken hymen. They include;
- The use of vaginal speculums for abdominal tests.
- The use of tampons
- Being active in sports such as riding horses, jumping on a trampoline, riding a bicycle, doing gymnastics.
- Injury to the body
- Not being born with a hymen
All these conditions will tamper with the hymen. Even with that, it is not a guarantee that engaging in these activities or conditions will break your hymen. In some cases, even sex will not tear the hymen but only stretch it.
What happens when you break your hymen?
When you break your hymen, you are bound to experience the major symptoms of a broken hymen which include;
- Some light bleeding
- Pain in the vaginal opening
- If you look inside the vagina immediately after breaking the hymen, you will likely see broken pieces of skin with some pink blood.
At other times, may not see any of these symptoms yet your hymen is broken. After the activity, you expect it has broken your hymen, simply check for its presence as stated in the stages above.
If you notice some bleeding and pain, you can do the following to ease the pain and bleeding right at home;
- If the color of the discharge is a dark brown or dark red tinge rather than light red, then it would be another problem and not the breaking of your hymen. It would also be an infection and not something to overlook.
- The spotting should not go on for more than two days after the hymen has been broken. It should not be enough to soak a pad and, in any case, you don’t need a pad for this purpose.
- After you confirm that your hymen has been broken, avoid all sexual activities until the pain and bleeding has fully ended.
- If you broke the hymen with finger rather than another object or situation, you may need to take some preventive medications for against infections.
You know if your hymen is broken with the situations stated above. However, if you experience anything beyond the norm, you should see a doctor as fast as possible given that postcoital bleeding (bleeding after sex) can occur due to many different reasons including;
- Vaginal Tearing
- Uterine polyps
- Yeast infections
- Cervical polyps
- Cervical dysplasia
- Cervical cancer
Can your hymen grow back after its torn?
No. Once a hymen has been broken, it cannot grow back no matter how long you abstain from sexual intercourse or any other activities that penetrate the vagina such as masturbation.
The hymen is a mucous membrane whose formation starts early in the development of a baby. Once the baby is born, the mechanism to grow this membrane is rendered useless meaning that, however early or late the hymen is broken in your life, it will not grow back.
There are two cases that have been confusing women as far as the regrowth of the hymen is concerned. They are;
1. Secondary virginity
Secondary virginity is when you decide not to engage in sex anymore after a period of sexual activity. It simply means choosing to abstain from sex no matter your age even after you have had a period of being sexually active.
While the word virginity is employed here, it has nothing to do with the presence of the hymen. Even when you bleed for the first time after secondary virginity, it would not be due to the breaking of the hymen.
Also called hymenoplasty or hymen reconstruction, Hymenorrhaphy is the artificial creation of a hymen with the aim of causing bleeding after sex in the first sexual encounter after marriage.
This is required in some cultures as a proof of virginity at marriage.
Hymenorrhaphy can be performed under the following conditions;
- After sexual assault to restore the hymen if the victim was a virgin. This is done by suturing a tissue in the hymen to facilitate the healing of the hymen.
- Creating a completely new hymen by using a flap of the vaginal lining.
- A procedure of plastic surgery in which a gelatine capsule filled with a fluid with the traits of blood which will be placed inside the vagina. The fluid would then ooze out just like the actual blood.
As seen here, once you know if your hymen is broken, the only ways to revert back to virginity would be through virginity or hymenorrhaphy.
Different types of hymens
The hymen comes in different sizes and shapes. No one shape is correct or normal over the other. Among the most common types hymes are;
1. Septate hymen
The septate hymen has bands of hymen tissue extending across the opening of the vagina. The tissue can either be soft and supple or rigid and thick.
That means that penetration during sex is only possible after the breaking of these bands. Besides that, using a tampon will also be impossible with the bands in place.
These bands may at times break on their own, during sex or by a surgical procedure.
2. Parous introitus hymen
This is a type of hymen that is almost gone. It appears as a thin layer of skin on the sides of the vaginal opening. Either you may be born with this type of hymen or you could have broken away the existing hymen.
3. Cribriform hymen
The cribriform hymen has many small holes in the opening of the vagina. These holes are enough to allow for the passage of menses and other vaginal discharges.
However, abdominal examinations and the use of tampons is highly limited. Sexual penetration will only be possible with the breakage of the hymen.
4. Imperforate hymen
Unlike the other types hymen, the imperforate hymen completely covers the vaginal opening. It means that menstrual blood will not be allowed out of the body.
You will thus require a surgical procedure to correct this case since retained menses is bad for the body. The good news is that the imperforate hymen is very uncommon as only about 2 percent of women will have it.
5. Annular hymen
The annular hymen is one whereby the hymen forms an almost perfect circle around the opening of the vagina. A look at it will reveal a fully-formed vagina with a little hole in the middle.
For this kind of hymen, masturbating, having sex or other physical exertion will widen the hole with the reduction of the hymen. It is also called the microperforate hymen.
If you are in suspicion of having an imperforate, cribriform or septate hymen, you need to pay your doctor a visit for a checkup.
Is My Hymen Intact? | SexInfo Online – University of California, Santa Barbara
How Can You Know If Hymen Is Broken? | New Health Advisor
Hymens: Types of Hymens | Center for Young Women’s Health