Hymenorrhaphy or hymen reconstruction surgery is the temporary surgical restoration of the hymen. The term comes from the Greek words hymen meaning "membrane", and raphḗ 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 United States, Middle East, 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 three 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.
Availability and legality
- Some hymen reconstruction operations are legal in some countries, while other countries ban all hymenorrhaphy.
- 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.
- The operation is popular in Middle Eastern countries, in particular, in Iran, where women are expected to keep virginity until the wedding night. Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Sadeq Rohani has issued a fatwa which permits hymenorrhaphy and considers a woman after the operation to be virgin.
- 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
- Hymen Repair (hymenoplasty and hymenorrhaphy)
- 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.
- Afary, Janet (12 May 2009). "Recreating virginity in Iran". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 March 2017.