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What Is the Hymen?

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Updated September 21, 2010

Definition: The hymen is a thin tissue membrane that covers the opening to the vagina. The tissue is part of the vulva. The hymen has no known purpose, and doesn't not contribute to fertility or sexual pleasure.

The hymen is often looked upon as proof of virginity, although the presence or absences of a hymen is not diagnostic of virginity. It is possible for women to retain most of their hymen after intercourse, or to have little to no hymen tissue without ever having sex.

The hymen can be "broken", or may no longer be intact, due to sexual intercourse, but also can be the use of tampons, vigorous exercise and even physical examination.

Surgery to repair the hymen is known by several names including: hymenoplasty, hymenorrhaphy, or hymen reconstruction surgery.

Alternate Spellings: hymens (plural)
Common Misspellings: himen, hyman, highman, highmen,
Examples:
The patient was concerned that her hymen would no longer be intact after having a PAP smear.
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