Anonymous:
You know what's terrible? Until about a year ago I thought that your "cherry" was this bubble of blood deep inside my vagina that a dick had to pop and that there would be lots of blood. Also, before I got my period I thought I could just shove something up there to pop it and then I would start having regular periods. We really need better sex ed in schools.

largelabiaproject:

Thanks for writing. Sex education really needs to be improved, but thankfully there are some great resources around, like www.scarleteen.com. I’ve no idea where the “cherry” term came from, but it’s just so wrong. “Hymens”, or as they are more increasingly called these days, “vaginal coronas” are not cherry shaped or filled with blood or anything like that.

It’s really a thin and flexible membrane (basically thin tissue like skin) that partially encircles the vaginal opening. Sometimes it’s like a ring that goes all the way around. Sometimes it’s like a crescent that can commonly be at the bottom or the top part of the vaginal opening. Sometimes it covers most of the vaginal opening with just one or more smaller openings or perforations. Sometimes it’s not there at all.

Here’s a 22 Page PDF booklet about the Vaginal Corona - Myths Surrounding Virginity.

And there’s no “popping”. That’s a myth. The vaginal corona is thought to be there to protect the vagina in infants, but really nobody knows. Hardly a surprise. “Female” anatomy hasn’t been that much of a priority for medical science unless money can be made from it. But certainly these days in modern and enlightened cultures it’s perfectly usual to not have a vaginal corona ready to be broken during first time sex. Most of the time having normal everyday activity means it stretches anyway. The old fashioned idea of bloody sheets when you lose your virginity from a ruptured hymen is a myth that should be buried. You can definitely have blood and painful sex, but that’s because there’s not enough wetness and lubrication. Is is any wonder when there’s so much apprehension, expectation and fear that’s often tied up in the mythology of first time sex. That hardly puts you in the right emotional place to be relaxed and wet!The lining of the vaginal walls is delicate and skin-on-skin friction can cause pain and the vaginal walls to have small tears. Is it the hymen? No. You just need to be better lubricated.

There’s more to hymens and vaginal coronas than just sex education. It is very much linked with the idea of virginity, which for some people with a vulva can be extremely dangerous.

Unfortunately some seriously evil, patriarchal, misogynistic ideas from the dark ages, that exist in some religions and cultures, means that women and girls can be under significant pressure to prove they are virgins when they marry. That can mean the need for “certification” from a doctor, along with their husband’s (violent) requirement that they bleed when they first fuck them. Looking at the vaginal corona is no indication of virginity, whether it’s there or not! But people are being murdered because of these fucked-up ideas in these cultures (laughably called “honour killings”), because of their virginity, the pressure to have an intact hymen is intense and a matter of life and death. There are now even “revirginising” surgical procedures to reinstate the vaginal corona, called “hymenoplasty” (WARNING - this video explicitly shows this surgical procedure which may be extremely disturbing to many readers).

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a rambling rant. Ultimately through there’s so much myth, misinformation and real danger around people’s beliefs about this part of genital anatomy. I agree, sex education is woefully lacking. But it goes further than that. Societal and religious pressures mean it’s up there with female genital mutilation as a threat to women’s lives and well being.

Emma