The hymen is a diaphragm-like structure located at the external opening of the vagina. The aperture(s) in the hymen helps in the drainage of the menstrual blood. The hymen varies in appearance. Some individuals may have multiple apertures instead of a single aperture in the center. It can be either a thin or a relatively thick structure.
The hymen gets disrupted following sexual intercourse. Following disruption, the hymenal remnants at the external vaginal opening are known as hymenal carunculae. The hymen can also get injured following clinical examination, strenuous physical exercise or disease. hence its appearance is not a definitive indicator of the virginity of a woman or a girl. The presence of an intact hymen in a bride is considered very important in some cultures. This probably arises from a correlation between an intact hymen and virginity.
It is possible to repair a laceration of the hymen. This procedure is also known as hymenoplasty. Some also know this cosmetic surgery as 'revirginization'. It is a small procedure which does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. We usually perform this procedure under general anesthesia. The remnants of the hymen are carefully brought together in layers using fine absorbable stitches. Follow up is done after a few days as an outpatient.
Patients should avoid strenuous activity for a few weeks following the procedure. The labial folds should not be stretched apart for a month following hymenoplasty. We recommend at least six weeks for the tissues to heal. There are no restrictions on any activity after this period.
Hymenoplasty is a relatively new technique among other female genital cosmetic procedures. It may help some individuals cope with the stress arising as a result of the cultural taboos of our society.
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