(This was in response to a video I made on TikTok explaining how the hymen and penis are unrelated and virginity is a social construct, click here to watch)
It is a myth that all women bleed when they have sex with a penis for the first time. Bleeding after first sex only happens to approximately one-third of women, and even then when it does, it is typically just spotting. There are also other causes of bleeding after first sex unrelated to the hymen.
The hymen is a circumferential membranous fold just inside the vaginal opening, and it is there to protect the infant vagina, which is very sensitive to irritation.
During infancy, the hymen is very tight; this functions to protect the infant vagina from irritants. Remember, we are all incontinent of urine and stool for a few years, and there are no labia or pubic hair to offer physical protection from urine, feces, dirt, and debris. If these substances entered the infant vagina they would lead to intense inflammation and a heavy, irritating discharge.
Thinking about our evolutionary ancestors, they likely sat on the ground a lot more than we did (no chairs), and their vulvas had direct contact with the earth (no diapers or underwear). So, the hymen protected the vagina in infancy and early childhood from all these irritants as well as from urine and fece, as it likely still does today. It is also possible that the hymen we have today has outlived its biological function, like wisdom teeth, and simply remains as an evolutionary vestige.
Many mammals have hymens. Dogs, cats, cows, and even elephants. This reinforces the idea that the hymen has or once had a biological function — meaning, nothing to do with the social construct of virginity. It not as if tomcats wait for marriage, ya know?
As young girls grow, around the age of two to four, the hymen becomes more pliable and takes on other shapes. When girls go through puberty, estrogen also has an impact. By the teen years, the hymen can have a variety of shapes. It can have clefts or notches (what some people think of when they imagine a hymen that has “broken,” meaning no longer an intact circle), it can be an intact circle and be very flexible, or it may be an intact circle and remain relatively stiff. Some women even have very little hymenal tissue at all.
The hymen can be disrupted (meaning develop a notch or cleft) long before sex happens and 52% of teens who report they have had sex with a penis have an intact hymen, so the hymen is a highly unreliable indicator of first sex. It is simply tissue that had a purpose early on in life and once that purpose is met the shape is no longer important, so evolution was never invested in the shape of the hymen once a child has control of their bowel and bladder. In many ways the hymen is like baby teeth, valuable early on and then discarded when no longer needed.
Only one-third of women report bleeding during their first sex, but it would be wrong to assume that this bleeding if it occurs is always due to a disruption in the hymen. Here are all the causes:
Most women don’t bleed their first time having sex, and for those who do it is important to remember that not all bleeding is from the hymen. Having this information is important so women understand how their body works. And also so they can be liberated from the harmful, patriarchal myth that the hymen is related to the penis.
The hymen is a few millimeters of tissue that is there to protect the infant vagina, and yet it has controlled the worth of women for thousands of years and still does for many today. It has been twisted into something false as a means of controlling women. That is unacceptable, and those who seek to perpetuate this myth should shut up and take a seat in the back of class.
This is the final non-subscription Ask Dr. Jen for March. This feature is available weekly (and occasionally a little more, depending on the questions) to subscribers, and going forward the first week of the month for everyone.
Recognizing the Symptoms of a Dog in Heat
To better understand the many signs a dog is coming into season, its best to break down the various stages of the average 21-day heat cycle. Doing so can help you determine which part of the cycle your female dog is in, and it can also help in planning or preventing a litter. Keep in mind that the 21-day cycle is just a guideline, and every dog is different. Related Articles
According to Veterinary Centers of America, a heat cycle can last anywhere from seven days to two weeks long or more. The heat cycle usually occurs twice a year, though some dogs will go more or less than six months between cycles. Because heat cycles only happen for a short time about twice a year, they are referred to as “seasons,” which is the basis for the phrase that a dog is “coming into season.”
Week Two: Estrus
The onset of estrus marks the fertile portion of the heat cycle, where the ovaries begin to release eggs for fertilization. During this period, symptoms include:
How much blood does a female lose on her period?
Most women will lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood (80ml) during their period, with the average being around 6 to 8 teaspoons. Heavy menstrual bleeding is defined as losing 80ml or more in each period, having periods that last longer than 7 days, or both.
If you’re thinking of adopting a female dog, you may wonder if female dogs have periods, or if you live with one that isn’t spayed you might be curious as to why she is bleeding. Female dogs do undergo a regular cycle and bleed once they reach maturity, if they are not spayed.
Do female dogs bleed after mating?
What does it mean when a female dog is bleeding from her private area?
Do female dogs bleed their first heat?
How much do dogs bleed in first heat?