Image Caption : Fimbriated Hymen within Female External Genitalia: Medical visualization of a fimbriated hymen within the context of the female external genitalia. The hymen is a piece of membranous tissue that edges the vaginal orifice to varying degrees. It comes in many different shapes and sizes, the most common being annular, fimbriated, lunate, and septate. The hymen almost always has an opening wide enough to allow for unimpeded menstrual flow, but occasionally can cover the entire vaginal opening (an imperforate hymen), and must be surgically corrected. Bleeding which can occur during a woman's first sexual intercourse is usually the result of the disruption of the hymen.
The hymen is a membrane that surrounds or partially covers the external vaginal opening. It forms part of the vulva, or external genitalia, and is similar in structure to the vagina. In children, although a common appearance of the hymen is crescent-shaped, many shapes are possible.
The effects of sexual intercourse and childbirth on the hymen are variable. If the hymen is sufficiently elastic, it may return to nearly its original condition. In other cases, there may be remnants (carunculae myrtiformes), or it may appear completely absent after repeated penetration. Additionally, the hymen may be lacerated by disease, injury, medical examination, masturbation or physical exercise. For these reasons, the state of the hymen is not a conclusive indicator of virginity.
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