The hymen is one of the most misunderstood parts of human anatomy. The hymen–a thin membrane at the vaginal opening–is always associated with sexual intercourse and the concept of virginity. You know the term “popping the cherry”? Yeah, well, that’s about breaking the hymen. The popular belief that the hymen breaks during intercourse and is a bit of a bloody mess is one that has spanned various cultures for literal centuries. Hell, blood on the sheets on one’s wedding night was thought to signify that sexy times occurred, and the woman it occurred with was, in fact, a virgin instead of a slut (I wish I was joking). If anything, blood after first-time sex has less to do with a hymen and more to do with a lack of lubrication and a seriously sore vagina. In fact, the hymen doesn’t really “break” at all! There’s this misconception that the hymen is like a bubble that disappears into nothingness the mintue it is breached. Um, no. The membrane that makes up the hymen is stretchy, so most hymens that are considered broken are just stretched.
But here’s the real kicker: It’s possible to have never had sex and to to have a “broken” hymen at the same time. I repeat, your hymen has nothing to do with whether you’re a virgin or not. In fact, tons of folks with vaginas break their hymens before they even begin to think about having sex. Here are seven ways that your hymen can break without having sex. You might have already broken your hymen and don’t even know it.
An Injury Down ThereOuch! Have you ever landed vag first on some monkey bars? Well, that's just the thing that can make someone's hymen stretch, and it isn't sexy at all. A lot of us probably "broke" our hymen this way and didn't even know it. Lizzie McGuire
Inserting TamponsWhen tampons grew in mainstream popularity, companies had to release ad campaigns that assured its users that they would still be virgins after using them. Well, if we're defining virginity by sexual activity with another human being with a heaping side of penile penetration, of course a tampon isn't the same as losing your v-card. But since so many define virginity by the state of the hymen, well, tampons can and do stretch the hymen. iStock.com
Growing UpBodies change, and your hymen changes with it. As you get older, the membrane that makes up the hymen tends to weaken and stretch naturally, without the help of penetration or injury. My So-Called Life
Playing SportsPeople who are super active are more likely to have a stretched hymen. So if you play sports and stretch a ton and/or have had your fair share of falls, don't be surprised if your hymen isn't covering your entire vaginal opening. Bend It Like Beckham
Penetrative MasturbationSure, you don't have to have sex to stretch the hymen, but you can engage in other sexual activities to get the job done. Penetrative masturbation--whether with fingers or sex toys--can stretch the hymen. The To Do List
Activities That Put Pressure Around The VagYou might have heard that you can break your hymen by horseback riding or riding a bike. Please know that this isn't saying that riding a horse one time or riding your bike around the neighborhood will make your hymen disappear. Usually a hymen stretches from these activities because there's a lot of pressure around the vagina. One's hymen might be more prone to stretching from these activities if they're positioned poorly and cause light damage or strain down there. Skins
Not Really Having An Intact Hymen At AllEveryone is born with a hymen, but remember: The hymen is very stretchy. Some people might be born with a hymen that already appears to be "broken" but simply lacks the type of barrier that other hymens have. My Mad Fat Diary
What hymen myths have you bought into? Tell us in the comments!