[UPDATE: I did a bunch of research to prepare another lecture, and I found out the actual, honest truth about the hymen. The short version is: it doesn't break; it STRETCHES!]

 

To my utter astonishment, my tongue-in-cheek post about how to break a hymen without a penis has become one of the most read on the blog, due to people actually SEARCHING THE INTERNET for the phrase “how to break a hymen.”

And I feel terribly guilty that there are all these women out there who want to break their hymens and the advice they get from me is slightly facetious.

I still don’t know why people are so worried about it, but clearly they are, so here’s the ACTUAL advice:

Option 1: Have a medical professional do it. If your hymen is imperforate, microperforate, or septate, definitely take this option. If you don’t know whether or not your hymen is any of these things, get a medical professional to check. If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have access to a medical professional” or “I don’t want to talk to my doctor about this,” then there’s something else wrong that’s more important than your hymen.

Option 2: Have intercourse. It’s how women have been breaking their hymens for ages. There will probably be a little bit of pain and a possibly (but not usually) little bit of blood, but it’s totally no big deal, from a physiological/medical perspective. If your partner doesn’t have a biological penis, use a non-biological one.

Option 3: Break it yourself. Which means you need to know both how to manage the pain and how to successfully break it.

(Actually it’s not really breaking, it’s stretching.)

To minimize pain, use either (or both) a numbing agent (you can use oral numbing agents they sell at the drugstore for canker sores and stuff) or a counter-irritant. A counter-irritant is some intense stimulation elsewhere that more or less distracts your central nervous system from the sensation happening at your vagina. The best counter-irritants will be sensations to the other highly sensitive parts of your body, like your face, feet, and hands. Deep touch sensations – pressure, massage, vibration – will be most effective. So, for example, hold a Hitachi Magic Wand between your feet.

Drinking a couple of glasses of wine – more than one glass, but LESS THAN A BOTTLE – can also help. Do not, whatever you do, exceed 4 drinks, and no more than 2 or 3 in a single hour. Don’t be stupid about alcohol.

And to stretch the hymen, you mostly need girth. Gradually increasing the girth of the thing you penetrate with will make things easier; contrary to popular belief, pulling off a band-aid slowly results in less pain than ripping it off all at once, so don’t try to put a mango in there all at once.

Another thing to remember is that the hymen is just one of several potential sources of pain with penetration – indeed it’s just about the least common source of pain. The most common source of pain is friction. LUBRICATION is absolutely, positively, unambiguously CRUCIAL. DO NOT attempt to penetrate your vagina without LOTS of lubrication. If you really can’t get lube anywhere else, some oil from the kitchen will do.

Another potential source of pain is muscle tension. Yes there is a vaginal sphincter muscle, and you must relax it in order to penetrate the vagina. You can find it by stopping yourself mid-stream while you pee – it’s the same muscle (different sphincter. don’t worry about the details.)

And finally, pull out a little mirror and LOOK at your vagina and your hymen before you start any of this. LOOK at it. See where it is, what it’s made of. Think patiently and non-judgmentally about your feelings about what you see. It’s a part of your body, just like your elbow and your toes. Be as kind and gentle with it as you would with, say, clipping an infant’s toenails. Be nice to your body.

I can’t even begin to write about the psychological noise that must be happening inside a person’s head if they’re searching the internet for information on how to break their hymen. What advise can I give for that?

Take a deep breath. Relax. Pay attention to your body and its sensations. Pay attention to your feelings about your body, and know that you are allowed – indeed, you are WELCOME – to love all the parts of you. Okee dokee?

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