Did you know that the hymen doesn’t really exist? Nor is it possible to see whether a girl is a virgin or not.

Sometimes people refer to the hymen as the name of a thin membrane that is said to cover the external vaginal opening and which breaks the first time you have intercourse. But in actual fact there is no such membrane. What is actually there is a thin piece of mucosal tissue around the opening of the vagina, and this has been called the hymen. Its appearance can vary considerably, and it does not serve any particular purpose.

The hymen as proof of virginity is a myth

It has long been claimed that women have a vaginal membrane that breaks upon penetration, and that for as long as it is in place this is proof that the girl is a virgin (has not had sex). But there is no such membrane, and this is a myth. Instead, there is a fold of skin that consists of mucous tissue, one to two centimetres inside the external opening of the vagina.

The hymen cannot be broken, by either a penis or any other object inserted into the vagina. Many people also think that vaginal bleeding is common the first time you have sex. The truth is that about 70 per cent of girls do not bleed when they have intercourse for the first time. Nor is it possible to see from a girl’s vagina whether or not she is a virgin. Just as you cannot see from a man’s penis that he has had sex, you cannot see this from a woman’s vagina, either.