An important part of women's sexual health is understanding her body. Society has often dictated how a women thinks about her own sexual health, and sometimes even topics like virginity or biological terms like the hymen or vagina can be pretty scary to a young woman. This article addresses the clinical definition of the hymen, as well as its role in women's sexual health and why it is often associated with a woman's virginity.
A hymen is the thin piece of tissue that partially blocks the entrance to the vagina. It is sometimes called the maidenhead or cherry. It is named after the Greek god of marriage and has no known biological function.
Although some women are born without a hymen, most have one, and the hymen varies in size and shape from woman to woman. The hymen usually does not cover the entire vaginal opening, since there must be some way for the menstrual fluid, or period, to leave the body.