October 14, 2016

Q&A: Will I Bleed For My Wedding Night, Long After A Rape?

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Question: I was raped a long time ago. After the person had sex with me, I bled after that a little and it continued for 2 or 3 days whenever I went to urinate. After that I didn’t have sex again. Now my parents want me to get married but I am afraid whether my husband will be able to tell what happened and that I’m not a virgin. Since it’s been almost 3 years since that incident, and not having sex since that, will I bleed again after the first time I have sex with my husband? I’m really worried that I won’t bleed and that he won’t think I’m a virgin.

Many victims’ advocates point out that rape is a crime – not sex. I’m sorry that you were raped and want to thank you for the trust you have in Kinsey Confidential to write and seek information. If you would like to speak with someone about the rape or any issues that have surfaced since then, check out www.rainn.org (or call 1.800.656.HOPE) for support and resources.

As for your questions, I don’t know whether you will bleed or not when you next have sex. The vagina doesn’t “seal up” over time, so the fact that you haven’t had sex in the past 3 years has no bearing on whether or not you will bleed again during intercourse. Even looking back to the rape, there’s no way of knowing whether you bled initially because the rape resulted in a tearing of your hymen (a thin layer of tissue that partially covers that vaginal opening and that, when torn, bleeds) or because the forced penetration caused any cuts or tears in your vagina. It may have been either of these, or both.

Virginity and Choice

Even if your hymen was torn, many people would still contend that you’re a virgin assuming that you haven’t otherwise chosen to have sex. If and when you choose to have sex, I hope that you’re able to create the kind of sex life that you want.

If you are worried about not bleeding during sex, please know that not all women bleed when they first have intercourse. Remember the hymen I mentioned that partially covers the vaginal entrance of females? Well, some females are born with more of a hymen than others and so some females bleed more than others. And of course some females are born with little to no hymen, or else it seems to wear thin over time (or tears during masturbation or fingering with a partner), and thus there’s no bleeding the first time during intercourse.

I recognize that, even today, some cultures are very strict about women’s virginity. I understand that some husbands, or even their mother in law or other relatives, may check the sheets for signs of bleeding and that, if there’s no blood, the woman may be shamed or subjected to severe punishment. In these cases, some women or couples “fake” vaginal bleeding by putting blood from elsewhere on the body (like a small cut) on the sheets. Other times, women have what’s called a “hymenoplasty” months in advance of their wedding – this involves a doctor essentially creating a new hymen so that there’s a hymen to tear during a couple’s first intercourse. This procedure is controversial, even among physicians who perform it, but some feel that it remains an important offering for women in cultures where women or their families may be subjected to dishonor or violence if virginity is not demonstrated.

I hope this information is helpful as you look toward your future and a potential marriage. To learn more about the vagina, vulva, and virginity (not to mention sexual exploration and pleasure), check out Read My Lips: A Complete Guide to the Vulva and Vagina. 

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