Hymen reconstruction: ethical and legal issues

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009 Dec;107(3):266-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2009.07.032. Epub 2009 Aug 29.


A hymen may be ruptured by sexual intercourse and several other means. In cultures prizing unmarried women's virginity, premarital rupture may shame a woman, and her family. Women, including brides whose virginity is not proven at marriage, face humiliation, ostracism, divorce, and violence-at the extreme, "honor" killing. Nevertheless, gynecologists may oppose hymen reconstruction on grounds that it is deceptive, not medically required, or that the requirement of evidence of virginity discriminates against women and the procedure supports holding them to higher standards of virtue than are required of men. Gynecologists may justify the procedure, however, as serving health, which includes patients' mental and social well-being and women's human rights to control their own bodies. Further, many adolescents lose their virginity innocently, by rape or coercion, and, without hymen reconstruction, women may face violence and even death. The procedure is usually lawful, and distinguishable from female genital cutting or mutilation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Hymen / surgery*
  • Sexual Abstinence*
  • Women's Health / ethics*
  • Women's Rights
  • Young Adult