Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Commentary: Education about the hymen is needed

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 07 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:461
  1. Sara Paterson-Brown, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologista (
  1. a Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital, London W6 0XG


    The celebration of a bloody sheet, vividly portrayed in popular cinema, is based on strong religious and cultural beliefs. The Koran states that a bride has to be a virgin, and according to custom a woman found on her wedding night to have been “touched” brings shame to her family. Consequences include divorce through to death. 1

    Young women, understandably, go to great lengths to get their hymens refashioned (hymenorraphy) before their wedding.1 Hymenorraphy is illegal in most Arab countries, but it is performed unofficially; specialists undertake five or six procedures …

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