Is It Possible for Your Hymen to Heal or Regrow?

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Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

I apologize if this is a strange question, or if it makes little sense, I don't know how to word it exactly. I was reading an article some time ago about the hymen and how it isn't really what most people think it is. I had seen a video of yours previously that dealt with a similar subject.

In this article it was claimed that in older women who are not sexually active, the hymen can sort of...grow back. Or not grow back but just, heal itself a little? I don't know how to explain, it's like there are still remnants of it and because of the bodily changes experienced during the menopause, these remnants sort of thicken and meld together. It has been a while since I read this article and I can no longer find it, so I have probably explained this horribly, I am sure there is more to it than that.

Anyway, I am a 21 year old female, and when I was nine I was sexually abused by my mother's boyfriend. I dissociated severely and no longer remember most of it. I can remember him molesting me and I know it went on for about a year, but I cannot remember if I was actually raped or not. Until I read this article I assumed that I couldn't have been raped because my hymen was still intact. I had to have it surgically removed when I was 19 because it was much thicker than it should have been. The hymenal ring was there, so everything looked normal, but it was so thick that I couldn't break it no matter how much force I used and it wouldn't stretch to accommodate more than one finger.

However, once I read this article I started to wonder if maybe it was possible that my hymen had been torn when I was a child and then reformed as I was developing. Since the hymen is not something that just breaks and disappears, I can't help but wonder if maybe the reason my hymen was so thick was because it had been ripped by this man when I was nine and had grown back in an excessive way. I wanted to ask you if you think that this is physically possible? Is it possible for the hymen to heal or regrow, and if so, could a child who was raped end up with a thickened hymen? The rape of a child would lead to a large amount of physical damage vaginally, and there would be all sorts of tears that would have to heal. Do you think it's possible that the hymen could heal/reform as part of this process?

It may also be worth noting that I have ended up with a lot of other pelvic problems due to my abuse. I suffer from vulvodynia and cannot have pain free penetration, I have to use a numbing lidocaine gel if I want to have sex. So I definitely have the sort of body that reacts negatively to past trauma.

Sorry to go on and on, it was difficult to word this correctly. If you don't wish to publish a question like this because it deals with abuse, could you just email me an answer instead? I don't have anyone else to ask.

Dear E,

There is so much misunderstanding surrounding the hymen with all the weight that society brings to it with the concept of "virginity." This is definitely a man's construct to make sure he's the only one who has penetrated HIS woman! I suspect a big part of virginity is that men don't want their wives to know what lousy lays most of them are.

D&R has a lot of information about this if you check out the left hand column that lists different topics. Hymen is one of them. Neither Carlin nor I ever remember 'breaking or opening" our hymens. For many women these soft little butter-like flaps just naturally pull apart. Occasionally a woman will have a tougher membrane that needs to be opened surgically as in your case. The Hymen is not such a big deal other than the madness of a society that is sexually obsessed without any decent sex information.

You asked: "maybe the reason my hymen was so thick was because it had been ripped by this man when I was nine and had grown back in an excessive way."

My answer is that I seriously doubt this is the case. We are all sexually abused in one form or another with organized religions, absence of guilt-free masturbation, lack of sex information or education. Then throw in the sexual double standard and we have a slim chance of becoming healthy orgasmic women. Every woman's healing is based upon claiming her own body and enjoying her own orgasms. Don't let the abuser win. Start to enjoy your clitoris and vagina with many self-loving happy orgasms.

Dr. Betty

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