The Wreath of Wear

The vaginal ring sits a few centimetres up the vagina. It looks different on everyone, but consists of several mucosal folds that sit like a wreath around the inside of the vagina. It used to be thought that there was a hymen there, but that's not true.

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The myth of the hymen

The hymen is an old myth that there is a membrane covering the vaginal opening. But it's not true. Instead, today we talk about the vaginal ring, which sits a few centimetres up the vagina. 

The myth of the hymen has been used for centuries to control the sexuality of women and young girls. It was claimed that girls "burst" when they had sex for the first time, thus losing their virginity. But no membrane has ever been found in the vagina. If there had been, it would not have been possible for menstrual blood to come out, for example, or for a tampon to be inserted.

Today we talk instead about the wear ring. The corona looks different in each person and consists of several small folds of mucous membrane. It is elastic and flexible and remains in place throughout life.

You can see the crown of the slide if you look with a mirror at the slide opening. It may be slightly pink, or almost transparent. On some it looks a bit like a flower petal, on others like a crescent moon. It's different on each person.

Do you bleed the first time you have sex?

No, most people don't bleed the first time they have intercourse. You can't tell if someone has had sex or not either.

Sometimes blood can come out during sex. This is often because you are tense or not excited enough and wet. This causes small abrasions or tears in the mucous membrane of the vaginal ring and you may bleed a little. It is usually not dangerous and will heal on its own after a few days. It can happen even if you have had sex several times before.

It's common to feel tingly and nervous before having sex with someone. It's important to feel good before sex, for example, to feel safe and excited. When you are aroused, your vagina also gets wet and widens. It's a way for the body to prepare for intercourse and for it to feel good. 

If you always or often bleed during sex or if it hurts, it is a good idea to contact the adolescent clinic or a gynaecologist. Sex should feel good and be enjoyable!

Can you tell if someone has had sex?

No, you can't tell if someone has had sex. No one else can tell if you've had vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex or any other type of sex. It is impossible to see or feel someone's genitals if you have had sex before.

There are many girls who are required not to have sex before marriage and the myth of bleeding the first time is strong. The blood is often used as proof that the girl has not had sex before. But since most people don't bleed the first time they have sex, this can cause major problems, or even endanger your life.

Some may be forced to undergo tests to make sure the hymen is intact. But there is no membrane covering the vaginal opening and it is not possible to see whether someone has had sex or not. Even a doctor or gynaecologist can't tell if you've had sex or not.

You may also feel compelled to undergo a so-called "virginity operation" to "restore the hymen". These operations have no scientific basis. It is not possible to "fix" a membrane because there was none in the first place. Such an operation often involves sewing up part of the vaginal ring instead, so that it starts to bleed during sexual intercourse. It is illegal in Sweden to perform such operations.

I'm worried about not bleeding the first time. Help!

If you feel a lot of anxiety and pressure about bleeding for the first time, it might be a good idea to try talking to someone about it.

For example, if you feel a lot of pressure from your family, you can show them texts and pictures of the vagina and vaginal ring and learn more about it together.

But if you don't feel you can talk to your family about this, you can always talk to another adult you trust, for example at a youth clinic. 

If you are scared and feel threatened by someone close to you, contact social services or the police. You have the right to control your own body and live without the threat of violence!

My body my choice

Remember that you always have the right to decide about your own sexuality and your own sex life. No one should control or direct what you do or don't do with your body.

If you are being controlled or are afraid of being punished, there is help available. You can go to a youth clinic or a gynaecologist. All health professionals are bound by professional secrecy. This means they cannot tell anyone about you, and your medical records are protected by confidentiality. 

If you are under 18 and are subjected to violence, staff must contact the social services - this is called the duty to report. You can always ask the person you are meeting about confidentiality, and what happens if you want to tell them something.

You can always chat with us here at Tjejjouren Väst anonymously! We are here for you.