Can Virginity Be Tested and How Reliable is it?
Medical Practitioners have said that the concept of an “intact” hymen is a myth! So what does that say about virginity testing? Can virginity really be tested and how reliable is it?
Before I discuss the concept of virginity; let’s talk about this famous fellow – The Hymen.
This is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina and can come in different shapes and sizes – some women are even born without one.
Contrary to popular belief the hymen does not completely cover the vaginal opening in order to allow menstrual fluid to leave the body.
However, in rare cases when the hymen is thick covering the entire vagina opening – it’s called imperforate hymen.
This kind of hymen may not allow a woman to menstruate, have penetration during sexual activity or have anything inserted into the vagina @Deekachy_md have discussed this in detail here.
Then we have the microperforate hymen – that almost completely covers the vagina opening allowing for menstrual blood flow through the very small opening.
Septate hymen – the hymen membrane has a band of extra tissue in the middle causing 2 small vagina opening instead of one.
Treatment for both hymens is a minor surgery to remove the extra hymeneal tissue to make space for a normal size opening.
So let’s talk about how they test for virginity- The way the test is done could vary from one place to another – the most common are-
- 2 fingers test – If the two fingers of the doctor easily penetrate the vagina of a woman, then its concluded that she’s not a virgin
- Visual test- where they check for any visible sign of defect on the hymen.
In conclusion, the two aspects often used to determine a woman’s virginity are- Intact hymen and tight vaginal opening.
We know that many cultures still place a huge value on virginity. For some, bleeding during the first intercourse is proof of virginity and some cultures demands the blood-stained sheets be shown. But the reality is that 40-50% of women do not bleed upon having sex for the first time.
No woman is the same! For some women, if the hymen is stretched or torn, they may experience pain or bleeding that generally lasts for a short period of time and for some women they may not show any “sign or have any discomfort at all.
During penetration, the hymen might be scarred but quite often the hymen stretches and is left undamaged; some women have flexible hymens that it just moves aside during penetration. On the other side, there are also virgin women whose hymens have a big opening and several clefts here and there
Evidence also supports the idea that it’s very possible to tear or stretch the hymen during non-sexual activities such as dancing, gymnastics and horseback riding.
Another mistaken assumption is the idea that the tightness of the vagina dictates if the woman is a virgin.
The tightness is not caused by the hymen membrane but as a result of a contracted pelvic floor muscle- the more it is contracted, the narrower the vagina canal.
So when a woman is feeling anxious particularly when it comes to sex, she automatically tenses up her pelvic floor. This is could be why partners feel their virgin partners to be “narrower “
This tensing up is also evident in women who might have been sexually assaulted – If you are battling with this, you can watch this!
Any type of virginity test that relies on the observation of the hymen or the tightness of the vagina is INCONCLUSIVE at best or COMPLETELY INVALID.
The association of virginity loss with penetrative sex is also problematic because it diminishes other sexual acts.
What if one has had oral sex or anal sex? Or maybe their first was with someone of the same sex- does that mean that they are still virgins?
I have a friend who got pregnant as a virgin (sex without penetration) – where do we classify these kind of sexual activities?
We as a society need to step back and stop putting so much focus on virginity especially in regards to the presence and absence of the hymen and focus on why the idea of virginity continues to hold such sway over our cultural consciousness and how to break free from them.