Definition and Overview
A hymenorrhaphy is a surgical procedure that aims to repair the hymen by stitching it back together.
Also known as hymen reconstruction, it is not considered a part of conventional gynecological care and is often classified as a plastic surgery procedure, mainly due to its lack of a medical purpose. It is therefore not widely available in hospitals, so patients need to go to private clinics to have the procedure done.
Women who undergo the procedure usually do so to cause the hymen to bleed when broken through during sexual intercourse, which some cultures consider to be a proof of virginity. However, the procedure is considered taboo in some cultures and is even illegal in certain countries.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Women who want to restore the original structure of their hymen, the thin membrane that covers the vaginal opening, could consider a hymenorrhaphy. Also known as a virgin’s veil, the hymen typically breaks during sexual penetration. However, it can also be lacerated by other factors, such as injury, sports, physical exercise, masturbation, use of tampons, or disease. On the other hand, some women’s hymens are more elastic that even penetration itself does not cause it to tear. Thus, a lacerated hymen and the lack of bleeding during sexual intercourse do not necessarily mean that a woman is not a virgin.
Below are the most common reasons of women undergoing a hymenorrhaphy:
- To serve as a sign of virginity prior to an intended marriage, which is required in some cultures
- To help with healing in the cases of women who suffered from sexual assault – This procedure may provide emotional or psychological relief for the victim.
- To repair a hymen that is torn due to injury
Women who are considering having a hymenorrhaphy to restore their virginity have to consider the recovery period after the surgery when scheduling the procedure. They are typically advised to undergo the procedure between three weeks and three months prior to getting married.
How Does the Procedure Work?
A hymenorrhaphy is a simple, non-invasive procedure that can be performed under local anaesthesia combined with mild sedation. However, if certain circumstances surrounding the patient’s condition calls for it, the procedure can also be performed under general anaesthesia.
In preparation for the hymen reconstruction, the surgery begins with the excision of the torn edges of the hymen.
There are three ways in which a hymen reconstruction is performed:
- Sewing together the torn skin that makes up the secondary layer of the hymen to make the hymen look intact
- Placing an artificial membrane without blood supply to serve as an artificial hymen, with the option of placing a gelatin capsule containing an artificial substance that looks like blood
- Placing a flap taken from the lining of the vagina to create a new fully functional hymen complete with blood supply that serves as a completely restored hymen
For patients who undergo the second type of hymenorrhaphy, it is necessary to refrain from having penetrative sexual intercourse for three months leading up to the procedure.
In a hymenorrhaphy, surgeons typically use dissolvable sutures, which means there is no need for the patient to go back to the doctor to have the sutures removed.
Possible Risks and Complications
While generally safe, a hymenorrhaphy carries some degree of risk just like any other surgery. These include:
- Infection – Infection is a common risk that is present in any kind of surgery. This is why in most, if not all, cases, the attending physician prescribes antibiotics to prevent the onset of infection.
- Bleeding – While bleeding is normal after the procedure, it should subside and go away completely within a few days. Prolonged bleeding may be a sign of a possible complication.
- Stricture – This occurs when the hymen is over-corrected, and the membrane, which used to be elastic, becomes too tight, causing the opening to become too narrow. This may cause some pain during sexual intercourse, but may resolve without treatment.
Despite the small risk it carries, complications following a hymen reconstruction procedure are very rare.
Ahmadi A. Ethical issues in hymenoplasty: Views from Tehran’s physicians. J Med Ethics.2014;40:429–30
Goodman MP. Female cosmetic genital surgery. Obstet Gynecol. 2009;113:154–9.
## What is Hymenorrhaphy: An Overview
Hymenorrhaphy is a surgical procedure performed to reconstruct or repair the hymen, a thin membrane located at the entrance of the vagina. This procedure is typically sought after to address a variety of reasons, including:
* **Medical conditions:** Certain medical conditions, such as childbirth or trauma, can cause tears or damage to the hymen. Hymenorrhaphy can help restore its structural integrity.
* **Cultural or religious beliefs:** In some cultures and religions, an intact hymen is considered a sign of virginity or purity. Hymenorrhaphy can be performed to fulfill these cultural or religious expectations.
* **Personal preference:** Some individuals may choose to undergo hymenorrhaphy for personal reasons, such as enhancing their appearance or self-esteem.
## Benefits of Hymenorrhaphy
Hymenorrhaphy offers several potential benefits:
* **Restores hymenal structure:** The procedure can effectively repair tears or damage to the hymen, restoring its natural appearance and function.
* **Improves vaginal aesthetics:** A well-reconstructed hymen can enhance the aesthetic appearance of the vaginal area.
* **Addresses medical issues:** By repairing the hymen, the procedure can alleviate discomfort or pain caused by tears or damage.
* **Fulfills cultural or religious expectations:** For individuals who place cultural or religious importance on an intact hymen, hymenorrhaphy can provide a solution to meet those expectations.
## Expected Results
The results of hymenorrhaphy vary depending on individual factors and the extent of the procedure. Generally, patients can expect:
* **Natural-looking hymen:** The reconstructed hymen will closely resemble the natural appearance and function of a healthy hymen.
* **Pain-free procedure:** The procedure is minimally invasive and typically performed under local anesthesia, minimizing discomfort.
* **Short recovery time:** Most patients recover within a few days, with limited pain or discomfort.
* **Improved self-esteem:** For individuals who undergo hymenorrhaphy for personal reasons, the procedure can boost their self-esteem and confidence.
Hymenorrhaphy is a surgical procedure that offers a range of benefits for individuals seeking to restore or repair their hymen. Whether for medical reasons, cultural or religious beliefs, or personal preference, hymenorrhaphy can effectively address specific concerns and improve overall well-being. If you are considering hymenorrhaphy, it is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss the procedure and determine if it is the right choice for you.