Myten om mødommen - fra et lægeligt perspektiv

The myth of the virginity - from a medical perspective

The idea of the virginity or being a "virgin" and that penetrative sex should have any sort of physically changing effect on people is a deep-rooted myth in society. Sexual experiences of any nature, penetrative or not, can have an impact on us mentally. But looking for physical signs of sex is futile 

This article was written by Anne-Mette/@femme_lioness who is a doctor, sexual counselor and queer activist - also co-founder of Normkritiske Læger (norm critical doctors).

People with a vagina

Some people with a vagina have a mucous membrane in the entrance to the vagina, which in latin is called the hymen, in the old days referred to as the virginal membrane and in more modern language the genital wreath (direct translation from the danish word "kønskrans", hymen is the preferred term in english). The hymen will look different on everyone, for some it's placed at the bottom of the vagina like a little fold, for others it creates a little wreath around the entire opening of the vagina, and others simply don't have it. Mucous membranes, which is the type of tissue the hymen is made from, are very elastic. That means it can stretch if something enters the vagina, meaning nothing has to be "broken" or taken. A very small number of people (about 1 in every 2000) have a hymen that completely covers the entrance to the vagina, which is called hymen imperforatus, and can require surgery to make room for period blood to exit the body and for something to enter the vagina without complications, but this is very rare. 

The myth of the virginity and the virginal membrane are very connected to the idea that sex is supposed to hurt the first time you experience it. But, sex is really not supposed to hurt. If you're horny and turned on the vagina will often be wet, the tissue will swell and expand. This is a good thing and contributes to making sex pleasurable. If you have penetrative sex without being wet you risk getting little cuts and tears in the membrane of the vagina, which can really hurt. That is why it is important to be wet or use lube and taking your time when you have sex where something enters the vagina - especially if it's your first time doing it. Of course the vagina has to get used to something entering it, be it a tampon, a menstrual cup, a dildo, fingers or a penis - and it can get a little sore, but it is not supposed to hurt. If you experience pain during sex, both in the membranes or in the pelvis, it can be due to a number of medical conditions, which you can see your doctor for. The way the hymen looks tells nothing about whether a person with a vagina has experienced consensual or non-consensual penetrative intercourse. Not even a doctor can "judge" whether or not a person has had penetrative sex. In assault cases a forensic doctor can look for bodily signs of trauma, assault and rape in terms of cuts and tears, but the way the hymen looks can not necessarily say anything about sexual activity or assault. In spite of research the reason for the hymens existence is still undiscovered and it has no known function. 

People with a penis

There are also myths that the frenulum - the place where the skin from the penis shaft meets the penis head on the underside of the penis - can break the first time you have penetrative sex. For some people the frenulum can be short and will get tears and bleed more easily than others. For these people the tears will come both when masturbating or when having penetrative sex - and it doesn't have to be the first time. If the frenulum breaks it can hurt and bleed, but it's not dangerous. If it happens, you have to let it rest in order for it to heal. If it's a reoccurring issue you should seek a doctor. 


So, the idea of the virginity is a cultural phenomenon and has nothing to do with the body. Nothing in your body will "change" the first time you have sex with yourself or with others. And it's important to remember that sex is a lot of things - and not just penetrative sex. 


What is Normkritiske Læger (norm critical doctors)?

Normkritiske Læger (@normkritiskelaeger) is an association of doctors and other health professionals working against discrimination in healthcare guided by a zero tolerance policy against sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia and ableism in the healthcare system.You can read another article from Normkritiske Læger right here, about the myth of the virginity - from a queer perspective.

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