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Hymen repair, also known as a hymenoplasty, is a surgical procedure that restores a woman's hymen or creates a hymen where one was nonexistent. The hymen, a tissue membrane, partially covers or surrounds the vaginal opening as part of the vulva (external genitalia). There is no known anatomical function for the hymen; the significance given to the hymen is a social phenomenon. In some cultures and societies, it is believed that the existence of an intact hymen is proof of a woman's virginity.
Restoring an Intact Hymen
It is not possible to determine whether a woman is a virgin based on the state of her hymen. Nevertheless, religious, cultural, or societal pressures may oblige a woman to have her hymen restored. Whatever the reason for the procedure, a woman can consult a qualified plastic surgeon and have all of her concerns addressed in a private, confidential manner.
The reconstruction of a hymen may be requested:
- before a woman's marriage
- after a sexual assault
- simply to seem 'virginal'
The Hymen Repair Procedure
The hymen repair procedure can be done on an outpatient basis at a surgeon's facility or hospital, with local or general anesthesia. The surgeon uses dissolvable sutures (stitches) to reconnect the hymen's torn membrane and partially cover the opening to the vagina. There is a minimal risk of infection or complications (as with any surgical procedure), and the entire procedure takes just one to two hours.
The recovery time is four to six weeks, after which the patient may engage in sexual intercourse that can be expected to tear the hymen, causing bleeding.