I was discussing about female virginity with my colleagues  as we are confined in our residences because of COVID-19  lockdown and someone said, “the only way to know if a girl is a virgin or not is that, the girl must bleeds during her first sex“. I am certain majority of people have the same mindset which is wrong and uninformed. Bleeding does not determine if a girl is a virgin or not.

The myth about female virginity and the expectation that women must bleed during their first sex is very common  in South Sudan especially among Dinka, Nuer, Mundari and other tribes. Allow me to talk about South Sudan, as that where I originate from. Not all women bleed the first time they have sex, as I will explain in this article.

To understand why some women bleed the first time they have sex while others don’t, it’s very important to first understand the nature of hymen. The HYMEN is a membrane that covers part of the vaginal opening {it doesn’t always block or cover the entire vagina, as some people mistakenly think}. Secondly, not all women have a hymenThe hymen also differs from woman to woman- just like we all present in different body features and sizes. Some women have thick hymens while others have larger or thin hymens. Other women naturally have a very little amount of hymen that covers only small portion of their vaginal opening and hence does not really get in the way during first time sex.

In addition to this, hymen wears off on its own as a woman grows up especially if the hymen is very thin and with exercise, bicycling, horseback riding. It can also wear off due to other physical activities such as  dancing or from usage of tampons during menstruation. This results in the overwhelming majority, i.e. at least the 63% of women do not bleed during their first time sex, according to a study published by the British Medical Journal.

Women who however do bleed include:

  1. Women with thick hymens (who constitute a small percentage of the population).
  2. Younger girls. Because their hymens wear off on its own with time, a 16-year-old has a higher chance of bleeding than a 25-year-old. By the time a girl is of or above the legal age of consent- 18, 20, 24 years of age, for example, most of her hymen is likely worn out on its own, meaning it’s unlikely that she’ll bleed a lot, if at all. However, even a young girl can be physically active, have a thin hymen or small hymen or have no hymen at all, meaning she might not bleed during first-time sex.
  3. Most often, women who bleed tend to be women who are dealt with roughly during sex. If the man forces himself inside the girl when she isn’t sexually aroused, ready or relaxed enough, he is likely to cause injury hence bleeding occurs. Due to most people belief that it’s normal for women to bleed the first time they have sex, they thus don’t realize that this particular bleeding is as a result of bruising by the forceful penetration and not necessarily the hymen breaking. Generally, first time sex is usually painful because the woman is not relaxed or aroused enough hence gets hurt/injured/bruised as a result; it is rarely ever because of the hymen breaking. The bottom line is that there is no way to assess female virginity. Is has to do with the kind of hymen a girl has and hymens differ from girl to girl from birth and anatomically.

The result is that only a small percentage of women bleed for the first time! [only 37% bleed during first time sex, according to the study published by British Medical Journal.

Why is it so important to be aware of?

Women all of over the world get abused, injured and even killed due to myth of ‘Virginity bleeding. Most men and women think that bleeding is a sign of virginity, women who don’t bleed for first time have been divorced, suffered from suspicion leading to domestic violence and abused or even killed for honor.

Educating people that a girl doesn’t necessarily have to bleed during her first time sex literally save lives.

Written by:

Mabor Chol Yuol

BSc Clinical Medicine and Surgery (Kabarak University)

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