What Is Hymenoplasty?
There are two types of hymenoplasty – simple hymenoplasty – a repair of a torn hymen by sewing the remnants together, if the remnants are present. The other is a reconstruction of a new hymen from patient’s own tissues. Reconstructions of the hymen using alloplants or biomaterials that can be torn through is no longer done. Hymenoplasty is the restoration of the hymen to its original “virgin” state. It is referred to as hymen repair surgery, hymen restoration, hymen reconstruction or hymen tightening.
The hymen is a mucous membrance that partially covers the external opening of the vagina. It can have many shapes. It can look like a crescent with a curve border, it can have a straight border and cover half the opening of the vagina or three quarters, it can cover the whole opening and have many small perforations in it, it can also be in a form of a band going across the opening. Other shapes include a total covering with a star type opening or a trianglular shapes can also occur. Thus the size and shape of the hymen varies. Some females can be born without a hymen although it is extremely rare. Others can have a very thick hymen that must be opened by surgery. Often estrogen creams are applied right after birth to thin out a very thick hymen if it is noticed in the newborn. It must be noted that the hymen must have a perforation in it, to allow for any discharge or menstruation to pass through. Thus it is never left as a solid structure. Once the hymen is broken it does not heal spontaneously but must be reconstructed if one wants to have one.
Hymen repair requires the use of adjacent tissue to be sewn into the very same spot where the original hymen was. A Hymenoplasty is not necessary but usually requested either to fulfill ones wish to look like a virgin in a traditional wedding or on first encounters with a new mate. Hymenoplasty can be performed any time after the hymen has been ruptured.
A hymen can be torn during sexual intercourse, or as a result of horseback riding, tampon use, biking or other exercise or activities such as gymnastics. Many women seek to undergo a hymenoplasty for religious, ethnic or cultural reasons. An intact hymen is a symbol of virginity and sexual purity and innocence and is required in some traditional weddings.
In some cultures and religions, it is imperative that the woman be a virgin when she is married. Her hymen will literally determine her future prospects of marriage and could impact her family’s reputation. The woman, in that type of an atmosphere knows that her having an intact hymen will impact her social and economic future. Her husband can punish his new bride, or even abandon her if she lies about her virginity. If she is not a virgin at marriage then it is a sign of disrespect for her future husband and his family.
Typically a hymenoplasty can be performed on an outpatient basis with the patient under local anaesthesia with some sedation. The procedure lasts about one hour. Hymenoplasty heals well and one cannot tell that it is not the original hymen. The hymen heals without scars. Generally the patient can return to work the day after surgery and the hymen should be healed within six weeks. Sexual activity if undertaken after six weeks from the procedure will simulate breaking a hymen of a virgin. The first time intercourse will result in bleeding and/or discomfort and pain as the new hymen is torn again.
Hymenectomy should be done by an experienced surgeon whom you have researched as to his credentials. The hymen repair is a delicate and very personal surgery and you and your surgeon should discuss it fully before undergoing the procedure. You should also feel comfortable with your surgeon and discuss your reasons, fears and hopes as related to hymen reconstruction. Costs can range from a price as low as $2500 to as high as $5,000. Some women combine this type of surgery with other vaginal or labial surgery so that they can feel really good about themselves when they have recovered knowing that their sexuality has been determined by them.