What can make the hymen break?

girl doing a splitI’ve heard that you can break your hymen by riding a horse or doing a split. Is this true? If not, why, and what can make the hymen break?

The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening of the vagina. Hymens can come in different shapes. The most common hymen is shaped like a half moon (see “Normal Hymen” diagram below). This shape allows menstrual blood to flow out of the vagina. All girls are born with a hymen, and some girls are born with extra hymen tissue.

Although horseback riding involves moving up and down, and doing splits puts pressure on your groin area, these activities do NOT change the hymen.

The only exceptions are some injuries such as falling on a sharp object in a pool, bathtub, or a water slide, or a water skiing accident. The opening in the hymen often gets larger as girls grow.

Tampons can be inserted through the opening of the hymen without changing the hymen as well. Sexual intercourse may stretch the hymen to make a larger opening or may cause a tiny tear or change in the shape of the hymen – sometimes this is called “breaking” the hymen, but it doesn’t really break, it just stretches.

hymen types