What is hymenoplasty?
Hymenoplasty is a plastic surgery procedure involving the construction/reconstruction of the hymen, which is a membrane covering the vaginal opening in some women. Not all women are born with an intact hymen, and some are even born without one.
The hymen may rupture or become damaged due to various reasons such as vigorous exercise, accidents and injury, insertion of tampons and also sexual intercourse.
Historically, the hymen has been associated with a women’s virginity. Hence, some women may want to undergo hymenoplasty to reconstruct their hymen for cultural, social or other personal reasons.
Procedure of Hymenoplasty
Hymenoplasty is a simple procedure which usually only takes about 30 minutes. There are 3 different types of hymenoplasty with slight differences. Women can opt for either of these depending on the desired outcome.
- Repairing a ruptured/damaged hymen
For women with an existing hymen which is ruptured or damaged, the remaining membrane can be stitched together with dissolvable sutures as long as the damage is not excessive, restoring the appearance and blood flow of an intact hymen
- Constructing a new hymen
For women born with a hymen, or in cases where the plastic surgeon is unable to repair the existing hymen, a new hymen with active blood flow can be constructed using the surrounding vaginal lining. This new membrane is generally indistinguishable from a typical hymen.
- Creating an artificial hymen
In this case, plastic surgeon will construct a membrane in the vagina which is identical in appearance to a natural hymen using artificial materials. A capsule containing a blood-like, gelatinous substance may also be included. The artificial hymen created from this procedure generally only lasts for a few days, and is usually performed just a few days before an intended marriage.
For all hymenoplasty procedures, the membrane will have a small opening to allow for menstrual discharge.
Hymenoplasty is usually performed under local anaesthesia.
Hymenoplasty is considered a non-invasive procedure as the hymen is located just a few centimetres from the vaginal opening and no incisions are required. As such, hymenoplasty is generally very safe without serious complications, which are rare.
Some of these complications may include:
• Excessive bleeding
• Pain during sexual intercourse
Most of these can be avoided with good technique and post-care.
Also, the genitals are a sensitive area and one of the areas in the human body most prone to infections. As such, it is important to adhere closely to the post-care instructions given by the plastic surgeon.
Patients should avoid wearing tight clothing, thongs and strenuous activities like running and cycling for at least 3 to 4 weeks post-surgery.
Also avoid any form of vaginal insertion (such as tampons), douching and sexual intercourse post-surgery for about 6 weeks. These will facilitate healing and prevent the reconstructed hymen from rupturing prematurely.