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Opinions of Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Columnist: Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu

The hymen and virginity: Reality or an illusion?

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Recently, I read one article titled "Men who want tight vagina don’t know sex – Midwife".

To be accessed at

According to the article; a veteran midwife in the Upper East region, Mary Azika, has chastised men with preference for “tight vagina”, saying such sexual partners have a lot in common with an apprentice who is eager to exhibit in public skills yet to be acquired.

Of deep concern to the celebrated midwife is the observable trend in which several women, in a desperate bid to attract the men who say they enjoy penetration only when it is tight, are now resorting to harmful concoctions and gels to tighten their private parts.

Because men claim they want tight vagina, women are inserting all sorts of concoctions into their vagina in a desperate bid to attract the men.

“Women are inserting concoction into their vagina claiming they want the vagina to be tight. Some would insert garlic, all sorts of concoction and cotton soaked with gel and pushed into the vagina so that men would say it is tight. These concoctions can expose you to cervical cancer. Any man who wants vagina to be tight before he penetrates doesn’t know sex. Forget that person", she said.

“If the vagina is tight and the man forces to penetrate, there are cuts around the vagina walls. And for men, if you are entering and the vagina is tight, that’s how you easily get HIV. Through penetration, if there is friction, there are cuts around the penis, there are cuts around the vagina walls, there is blood contact; so, you easily get HIV,” Madam Azika cautioned.

It is really disheartening and frustrating how men see these things. The women in their bid to also keep their men turn out to do anything to protect their men. Some even want to marry virgins all because of this! Let’s look at this issue of virginity and hymen connection.

The hymen

In reality, the hymen has no known biological function. However, in some ancient and even modern cultures, it was and is given some psychosocial significance.

What was and is the psychosocial significance of the hymen?

There was and is a belief that an unbroken hymen proves a woman's virginity, i.e. her sexual inexperience. However, such a belief is nothing more than a superstition. A hymen usually has one or several holes in it which may be stretchable and thus allow for the insertion of fingers, or even a penis, without tearing.

On the other hand, in some women the hymen tears easily, not only as a result of coitus but also because of strenuous physical exercise or sports activities. In some cases, the hymen is even absent altogether.

Therefore, the condition of a woman's hymen does not prove anything one way or the other about her sexual innocence or experience.

In most cases, the first coitus may very well be the occasion for the breaking of the hymen, but it can, of course, also occur during masturbation and petting, or when the woman first uses menstrual tampons.

Various shapes of the hymen

The hymen differs from one woman to another. It may almost totally close the vaginal opening, or it may have several small or even one large hole in it.

In the latter case, it may seem broken when it is actually still intact.

Does the tearing of the hymen hurt?

The tearing of the hymen may cause some initial discomfort and slight bleeding. However, there is no reason for women to fear any great pain.

On both sides of the vaginal opening, between the edge of the hymen and the minor lips, are the greater vestibular glands (Bartholin's glands), which correspond to the bulbourethral (Cowper's) glands in the male.

The greater vestibular glands secrete a small amount of lubricating fluid.

However, most of the vaginal lubrication needed for coitus is not provided by these glands but by the wall of the vagina itself.