In certain conservative parts of the world, like India, the hymen holds a special cultural and social position that can make it difficult for young or unmarried girls to accept period products like tampons and menstrual cups as heartily as pads.
In fact, the concept of virginity is so intertwined with the hymen that more than getting women accustomed to their own bodies, the bigger challenge becomes convincing them to try out these products because of the social stigma surrounding the hymen.
Even with the numerous benefits that come with using menstrual cups and tampons, in a lot of cases, the fear of having the hymen broken overshadows the convenience and comfort that they impart to the menstruator, especially in areas where there is less awareness and education. After all, it is still an ongoing battle to get pads accepted in numerous parts of the country!
What is hymen?
The hymen is a thin, fleshy wall like tissue that is located near the opening of your vagina. But, unlike the concept of it being a ‘seal’ or a ‘barrier’, it is more like a curtain that already has perforations in it to let the menstrual blood pass through.
In fact, it usually doesn’t really ‘break’ from intercourse as much as really stretch from it. And, the shape of the hymen varies vastly from one person to another, with some people having very little to none of the tissue.
Can a tampon break a hymen?
Technically, it is a possibility that inserting a menstrual cup or tampon can stretch out your hymen. But, a lot of other activities can do the same as well, like horse riding, bicycling, playing sports or inserting your finger and other objects into the vagina.
And, in some people, the hymen is flexible enough to not be affected by the insertion of any object because the hole (or holes) in their hymen is (or are) already big enough or they have too little hymen tissue. It really differs a lot from one person to another and that’s why there is no one umbrella answer to this question.
So then, should virgins use them?
A tampon and menstrual cup can be used safely by almost every menstruator right from the time they have their first period. In fact, the type of menstrual product chosen by a user should depend on their needs and what they are comfortable using, and not their status of virginity.
The key is to select a product that is safe and soft if you are starting out or considering making the switch. Try organic tampons that are soft and pose fewer chances of you hurting yourself or contracting an infection. For menstrual cups, the softer the cup, the better your experience will be as you will have a much better shot at a painless insertion.
Try the Carmesi Tampons that are made of 100% organic cotton for the safest and the smoothest insertion and long-lasting protection. The Carmesi Menstrual Cup is actually the softest cup you will ever try. It is so comfortable and easy to insert that if it’s your first time, you should definitely give it a shot.
Won’t they take my virginity, though?
First of all, it is important to remember that virginity is not a treasure that is for someone to ‘take’. It is a social and patriarchal construct that was devised centuries ago in order to impose restrictions on females regarding their sexuality. The concept of virginity dictates that a person needs to have penetrative sex vaginally in order to ‘lose their virginity’.
With tampons and menstrual cups, there is no sexual activity involved, and even though they may stretch out your hymen, they cannot technically ‘rob’ you of your virginity. So no, they cannot make you become a non-virgin.
Understanding the social importance of the hymen
Even though the hymen is an actual body part, it more or less serves no physiological purpose other than a theory that claims that as a foetus developing into a baby, the hymen was meant to provide protection against germs and dirt that might have gotten into the vagina.
But over the passage of time, the hymen began to command social importance in denoting the sexual status of a woman. In some cases, it is true that when it stretches out, some bleeding may happen, but there are so many different kinds of hymens and bodies, and so many other functions that cause the hymen to stretch, that it becomes an irrelevant measure of a person’s sexual activities.
However, in conservative societies like India, it does enjoy social importance and any damage to the hymen is thought to have been the result of penetrative sex. This is, however, absolutely not true and in no way can anything other than sexual activities define your status of ‘virginity’.
So, what’s the final word?
The bottom line is that using a tampon or a menstrual cup cannot take away your virginity, even though it can potentially stretch out your hymen. But, from a medical standpoint, they are completely safe period products that can be used by any menstruator, regardless of their age and sexual status.