Hymenoplasty. It’s a thing. Here’s the low-down on the surgery, what exactly it entails and the two main reasons women are opting to put their bits under the knife…
What Is hymenoplasty?
Hymeoplasty is essentially medical repair of the hymen.
“The hymen has a secondary layer that is sown up to cover the torn skin,” says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Kim Sonntag.
As it grafts together once more, the hymen will appear intact. The procedure will take about 45 minutes and you’ll need to be put under anaesthetic. The recovery period is quite quick – about a week.
Why women are doing it?
In most cases, it’s for cultural or religious reasons, says Dr Natalia Novikova, a gynaecologist and endoscopic surgeon. In some cultures, having an intact hymen signifies chastity.
But hymenoplasty is also sometimes performed as part of a psychological healing process for women who’ve been raped or sexually abused.
“Hymenoplasty is a relatively safe procedure that tends to carry few risks and side effects,” says Dr Novikova. As with any operation, there’s a small risk of infection and prolonged bleeding, as well as risks associated with anaesthetic. But complications from hymen repair are very rare.
Occasionally there can be over-correction, where the opening of the vagina becomes narrowed, making your next sexual encounter difficult. But this rarely causes problems in the long term.
“This procedure should only be done by a specialist with the correct experience and knowledge of the procedure,” says Dr Sonntag. “It’s still a fairly new procedure in South Africa and not offered widely. And remember: A woman’s hymen can still tear with the insertion of a tampon or during vigorous exercise.”