In many religions and cultures it is very important that women are virgins when they marry. The common symbol of virginity, the hymen (a thin membrane located at the entry of the vagina), by tradition should break on intercourse causing the new bride pain and bleeding. Blood on the sheets in some countries and traditions is then shown the family to reaffirm that the bride was a virgin and now she consumated her marriage. To many religions the bleeding is essential and proves the woman’s virginity. Today especially in the western society, many brides are no longer virgins on their wedding night. That is pretty much accepted in the modern western world. Women of certain religions, however, may want to marry in their tradition and have the traditional wedding. They fear that without an intact hymen their traditional new husband will realize they are not a virgin and his and her family will reject her and annul the marriage. More over she and her family will be humiliated with sometimes grave consequences. Although the most common way to break a hymen is by intercourse, the hymen may break without a woman’s knowlege when inserting a tampon, exercising, or doing some other form of physical activity. Due to the importance of having an intact hymen on the wedding night, many women (especially those that practice the Islamic and Catholic faiths) are reaching out for help to plastic surgeons to re-attach or reform their hymen by a procedure called hymenoplasty. In other cases, women seek hymenoplasty for reasons other than their religion. Some women want to surprise their husbands and get a hymenoplasty so that their husband can have sex with “a virgin.” Other women are no longer virgins but want to make their wedding night special.
Hymenoplasty isn’t just for brides, there are more private reasons for getting a hymenoplasty such as being a victim of abuse or rape and wanting to be able to start over. Whatever the reason, the procedure is extremely confidential and safe allowing the patient to have intercourse again within a month or two. Helen S. Colen MD