Hymenorrhaphy or hymenoplasty or hymen reconstruction surgery is the surgical restoration of the hymen. The term comes from the Greek words hymen meaning membrane, and raphe meaning suture. It is also known as hymenoplasty, although strictly this term would also include hymenotomy.
Such procedures are not generally regarded as part of mainstream gynecology, but are available from some plastic surgery centers, particularly in the USA, South Korea and Western Europe, generally as day surgery. The normal aim is to cause bleeding during post-nuptial intercourse, which in some cultures is considered proof of virginity.
Varieties of the operation
The term may cover at least four significantly different types of procedure:
- Suturing of a tear in the hymen such as might be caused by sexual assault, soon after the assault, to facilitate healing.
- A purely cosmetic procedure in which a membrane without blood supply is created, sometimes including a gelatine capsule of an artificial bloodlike substance. This operation is intended to be performed within a few days before an intended marriage.
- Use of a flap of the vaginal lining, complete with its blood supply, to create a new hymen. Patients are advised to refrain from penetrative sex for up to three months following this procedure.
- The term hymen reconstruction has also been used to describe some varieties of infibulation, requiring further surgery before penetration is possible.
Availability and legality
Some hymen reconstruction operations are legal in some countries, while other countries ban all hymenorrhaphy. Infibulation is generally illegal.
In the United States of America, hymen restoration is available in private clinics and becoming more common.
In France, some of the cost is reimbursed by the state in cases of rape or trauma.
- Artificial hymen
- Born-again virgin
- Genital modification and mutilation
- Virginity fraud
- Kyōko Aizome, a pornographic actress who had her hymen surgically restored so it could be broken on film
- Sciolino, Elaine; Mekhennet, Souad (June 11, 2008). "In Europe, Debate Over Islam and Virginity". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-13. "Like an increasing number of Muslim women in Europe, she had a hymenoplasty, a restoration of her hymen, the vaginal membrane that normally breaks in the first act of intercourse."
- Deuteronomy 22:13-19 (The Message)
- Paterson-Brown, Sara (1998-02-07). "Should doctors reconstruct the vaginal introitus of adolescent girls to mimic the virginal state? Education about the hymen is needed". BMJ 316 (7129): 461. doi:10.1136/bmj.316.7129.461. PMC 2665576. PMID 9492680.
- "Girls' secrets aired in Egypt". BBC News. May 5, 2001. Retrieved May 4, 2010.
- "Slideshow of before and after pictures of a hymenoplasty surgery". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18.
- Designer vaginas, SMH article describes a private clinic in New Zealand offering hymenorrhaphy and other appearance gynaecology procedures.
- Pediatrics article discusses healing of hymen injuries.
- NewHymen.dk - information and counselling on hymen surgery in the context of tradition and family pressure.