De mythe van het maagdenvlies

Translated title of the contribution: The myth of the hymen

S. Vermeirsch, A. Sabbe, M. Temmerman, E. Leye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The hymen can be ruptured during sexual intercourse, but also in many different, non-sexual ways. In cultures where female virginity is highly valued, premarital defloration is a source of shame for both the girl and her family. Thus, these young women, including brides whose virginity cannot be demonstrated at their wedding, run the risk of public humiliation, repudiation, violence, etc. Considering these sanctions, some girls feel forced to request a surgical repair of their hymen. Nevertheless, gynaecologists may refuse to comply with requests to undertake a hymen reconstruction. To justify this point of view, they esteem that this type of medical surgery is misleading and not medically indicated. Furthermore, a double moral standard is maintained: young women - but not men - are expected to remain virgins until their marriage. On the contrary, hymen (re)constructions are justifiable when considered as procedures improving the mental and social well-being, and consequently the overall health of the patient. Moreover, the decisions taken by competent women concerning their own body should be respected. Hymen (re)constructions are in many ways distinguishable from female genital mutilation (FGM).

Translated title of the contributionThe myth of the hymen
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)440-445
Number of pages6
JournalTijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


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