| Caroline Knight
There are quite a few misconceptions about hymens and losing your virginity, so it’s little wonder that women don’t know quite what to expect if they haven’t yet had sex. The presence of a hymen tends to be associated with virginity, but that’s often not the case at all. However, because first-time sex sometimes leads to a little bit of bleeding, it’s easy to assume that you might bleed when the hymen is stretched (or torn).
The hymen is a stretchy, fleshy membrane found around 1-2 centimetres inside the vaginal opening. Contrary to popular belief, this membrane doesn’t completely cover the vaginal opening; it is likely to have one or more openings in it so that menstrual blood and other fluids can flow through.
There are many things that can stretch your hymen. It doesn’t have to be sex – in fact, your hymen is likely to have stretched long before you first have sex… and the concept of ‘breaking the hymen’ is actually a myth!
Should you bleed when your hymen is stretched?
In truth, it’s unlikely that you’ll bleed if the hymen is stretched. That’s because (as we mentioned above) it probably already has at least one hole in it. Some girls are born with very little hymen tissue, and some have none at all. The majority of females do have a hymen, but they stretch it over time because of various activities, such as:
- Inserting tampons
- Pap smear tests (cervical cancer screening)
- Horse riding
- Bike riding
- Using vaginal dilators or sex toys
A hymen can either be stretched or torn, and this even happens because of gentle pressure – that alone is enough to fully open the hymen. Since it doesn't have a big blood supply, even if you stretch or tear it you probably won’t bleed much… if at all! Having said that, if you happen to tear your hymen through more vigorous sex or sporting activity, you might experience a small amount of bleeding – but it’s nothing to worry about.
What happens when the hymen is stretched?
Again, all hymens are different! The small opening (or openings) within your hymen is often crescent shaped, although shapes and sizes vary quite a lot. Hymen openings can be small or large, but no matter the size, they exist to make it easy for the hymen to stretch naturally. Once you have torn or stretched your hymen it shrinks to the sides of the vaginal opening, becoming an irregular ring of tissue. The more pressure you put on your hymen through sex or other activities, the sooner this will happen.
If for some reason you haven’t stretched your hymen much and you have sex for the first time, it is possible that you’ll feel a little tenderness or see a few drops of blood. There is no set rule for this but you certainly shouldn’t experience a lot of bleeding from a torn or stretched hymen.
There are some instances when girls are born with a hymen that covers the entire vaginal opening. This is called an ‘imperforate hymen’, and it only happens to around 2% of females. Imperforate hymens can be problematic as fluids can’t flow through, but the hymenal tissue can be removed through a minor procedure at the Doctor’s surgery. If your tissue is tougher than normal, your doctor or pelvic floor pt may tell you to buy vaginal dilators to help with stretching the opening.
So the bottom line is that stretching your hymen happens easily and naturally, often before you even have sex, and it generally doesn’t hurt. You probably won’t bleed if you stretch your hymen, but if you tear it the first time you have penetrative sex, a few drops of blood is normal. Excessive vaginal bleeding after penetration of any kind is not normal, so if this is happening to you, you should consult your Doctor.
Do you need to order vaginal dilators so you can start your pelvic floor therapy process? Made in the USA. Visit www.vuvatech.com
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Tara Langdale Schmidt is the inventor of the VuVa Dilator Company. She has pelvic floor dysfunction herself and wanted to create a dilator set that is made in America that women can trust. VuVatech has been in business since 2014 and has helped over 40,000 women all over the globe. She patented the Neodymium Vaginal Dilator, that is clinically proven to help with blood flow and nerve pain.