The state of never having engaged in sexual intercourse is called virginity. In our culture, virginity is viewed positively and it is expected that a woman will be a virgin on her wedding night (unless, it is her second marriage or she is divorced).
This expectation comes with a lot of pressure on the woman. Some women are aware and some are unaware with regards to what virginity entails anatomically (bodily structure of a female) and thus the concept of “bleeding” or “spotting” on the night of the wedding.
Let us discuss the anatomy briefly:
The female vagina is covered by a thin piece of tissue or “membrane” called the hymen that partially covers the opening to the vagina. Since a girls starts menstruating at the onset of puberty, there has to be a way for the menstrual fluid, or period, to exit the body. Therefore, the hymen usually does not cover the entire vaginal opening.
It is important to note that some women may be born without this membrane and may never have it, while in others it can vary in shape and size. Also, the hymen is lost in some women through physical activities such as bike riding, gymnastics and horse riding.
When a woman engages in sexual intercourse for the first time in her life, described as “penetration of the vagina by the penis”, the hymen is stretched open, and this may or not be painful. At times, tearing or bleeding may occur, however, this manifestation has to do with how flexible the hymen tissue is. Therefore, bleeding may or may not occur on the wedding night, despite the fact that the woman is a virgin..
If bleeding does occur: if the bleeding is minimal and there is no pain, then one can continue with intercourse depending on how the woman feels. If there is pain and discomfort, then discontinue intercourse till the pain stops and the woman is comfortable enough to engage in sexual intercourse again.
If bleeding does not occur: It is important to note that the absence of bleeding on the wedding night does not in any way mean that the woman is not a virgin. There are a number of women who do not bleed at all and they have previously never engaged in sexual intercourse. As described earlier, some women may have ruptured or lost their hymen earlier while engaging in heavy physical activity, biking, gymnastics.
The presence of the hymen, as a result of the cultural implications of virginity in our society, is wrongly misconstrued as physical evidence of purity. Purity of character is more than the presence or absence of a hymen and that has to be impressed upon.