The Myth of Virginal Bleeding
Female Virginity & Marriage
In cultures where female virginity is critical prior to marriage, a great deal of pressure is placed on the couple’s wedding night.
Image: Koert Michiels via Flickr CC license
Surgical repair of the hymen is debated (from different viewpoints) with regards to its ethical impact. In many countries it is illegal.
A physician in Western countries where it is legal as a plastic surgery may wonder if it is “right” to do as it perpetuates gender social injustices.
Lack of Virginal Bleeding
The outcomes of failing to show evidence of virginal blood after the first night can ruin lives. It can even put the safety of brides’ lives at risk, when the groom’s family feels they need to cleanse their family honor.
“Egypt’s trade in hymen repairs, reported last year, reduced 'Cleansing' murders by 80% over the previous 10 years.”
In a recent 2007 survey of couples (average age in their 20s), presenting for sexual counseling in southeast Turkey, 65% (two out of three!) were required to show the blood stained sheet as proof of the woman’s virginity the first night of marriage.
Is Virginal Bleeding Universal?
It is not just women who are no longer virgins who may not bleed during their first intercourse.
There is little published data to provide evidence of what percent of virginal women normally do bleed at first intercourse. In a brief survey of medical professionals, only 34% of these women bled at their first intercourse. Meaning that almost 2/3 of women did not.
Even with regard to hymen status, only 57% of virgins retain a physical hymen structure. In one recent report on hymen repair of second generation African immigrants in the Netherlands, forced intercourse had occurred in 60% of the patients, triggering their families to seek out the surgical hymen reconstruction.
Most women will not bleed at virginal intercourse, this does NOT mean they are not a virgin! Let’s get rid of this myth globally for the safety and well being of women.
I feel blessed that I grew up in a country where I could explore my sexuality.
- Dr. E
Science can help us nurture and enjoy our sexual selves.