Nina Dølvik Brochmann: So where does that leave us with our two myths? Well, first of all, if you have an elastic hymen, you will simply never bleed from sex. It doesn’t matter if you’re a virgin or not. It’s an anatomical impossibility. And that is the case for half of you, except for the men amongst you, of course.
So in other words, some virgins bleed but some simply don’t. And that’s our first myth shattered. It naturally follows that you can’t examine the hymens to check for virginity status. This was noted over a hundred years ago in 1906 by the Norwegian Dr. Marie Jeancet [ph]. She examined a middle-aged sex worker and concluded that her genitalia were reminiscent of a teenage virgin. But that makes sense, right, because if her hymen was never damaged during sex, then what were we expecting to see?
Ellen Støkken Dahl: Since hymens come in every shape and form, it is difficult to know if a dent or a folder nest is there because of previous damage or if it’s just a normal anatomical variant.
The absurdity of virgin testing is illustrated in a study done on 36 pregnant teenagers. When doctors examined their hymens, they could only find clear signs of penetration in two out of the 36 girls. So unless you believe, in 34 cases of virgin births, we must all agree that also our second myth has taken a vital blow.
You simply cannot look a woman between her legs and read her sexual story. Like most myths, the myths about the hymen are untrue. There is no virgin seal that magically disappears after sex and half of virgins can easily have sex without bleeding.
Nina Dølvik Brochmann: We wish we could say that by removing these myths everything would be okay, that shame, harm, and honor killings would all just disappear. But of course, it’s not that simple.
Sexual oppression of women comes from something much deeper than a simple anatomical misunderstanding about the properties of the hymen. It’s a question of cultural and religious control of women’s sexuality, and that is much harder to change. But we must try.
Ellen Støkken Dahl: As medical professionals, this is our contribution. We want every girl, parent and coming husband to know what the hymen is and how it works. We want them to know that the hymen can’t be used as a proof of virginity, and that way we can remove one of the most powerful tools used to control young women today.
After telling you this, you may wonder what the alternative is. For if we cannot use the hymen as a proof of virginity for women, then what should we use? We opt for using nothing. If you really want to know if a woman is a virgin or not, ask her. But how she’d answer that question is her choice.