If you are a woman and haven’t had sex for a while, you may be concerned that things have changed.
Not with the act itself (don’t worry the basics are still the same) but with your body and, in particular, your hymen.
Online message boards are filled with concerned women who haven’t had sex for several years and are unsure whether their hymen may have grown back.
Worries include if it means they are technically a virgin again and if it is going to hurt when they do choose to have sex again.
The simple answer is no, your hymen will not grow back.
To explain why, I spoke to Dr. Pandelis Athanasias, consultant gynecologist at London Women’s Centre.
Dr. Athanasias said many people believed the hymen completely covered the vaginal entrance and breaks during vaginal penetration.
However, he said he would describe it as a small tear in a thin layer of tissue which is usually accompanied by some bleeding.
But why doesn’t it grow back again?
‘The hymen can’t grow back as it’s just stretched and torn tissue without the ability to regenerate,’ said Dr. Athanasias.
‘We occasionally have patients calling and requesting appointments in order to clarify whether they are still virgins.
‘The hymen stretches and tears not just through penetrative sex but also during exercise or while inserting a tampon or other objects into the vagina.
‘Also if a woman relaxes, uses lubrication and digitally stretches the hymen, then it might not tear during intercourse.
‘So, you can’t definitely tell if someone is a virgin if they have a hymen or is not a virgin if they don’t have a hymen.’
Dr. Athanasias said he occasionally has phone calls from women looking to have their hymen restored – particularly if sexual abstinence before marriage is important to their culture.
‘In some cultures, a woman losing her virginity before marriage can have consequences, hence the requests for repair or restoration of the hymen,’ he says.