A thin membrane which completely or partially occludes the vaginal opening. The hymen is a fold of mucous membrane usually present at birth at the orifice of the vagina. It is also called the vaginal membrane (or, sometimes, the virginal membrane). "Hymen" is a Greek word meaning "skin" or "membrane." The ancient Greeks applied the word to all kinds of membranes including, for example, the membrane that surrounds the heart (the pericardium). Starting in the 1500s the word was restricted to refer only to the vaginal membrane.
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A thin membranous fold highly variable in appearance which partly occludes the ostium of the vagina prior to its rupture (which may occur for a variety of reasons). It is frequently absent (even in virgins) although remnants are commonly present as hymenal caruncula tags. [G. h., membrane]
- h. bifenestratus, h. biforis a h. in which there are two openings separated by a wide septum. Cf.:septate h..
- cribriform h. a h. with a number of small perforations.
- denticulate h. a h. with markedly serrated edges.
- imperforate h. a h. in which there is no opening, the membrane completely occluding the vagina.
- infundibuliform h. a projecting, funnel-shaped h. with a central opening with sloping edges.
- h. sculptatus a h. with markedly uneven and ragged edges.
- septate h. a h. in which there are two openings separated by a narrow band of tissue. Cf.:h. bifenestratus.
- h. subseptus a h. in which the opening is partly closed by a septum.
- vertical h. a h. in which the opening is perpendicular.

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hy·men 'hī-mən n a fold of mucous membrane partly or wholly closing the orifice of the vagina
hy·men·al -mən-əl adj

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the membrane that covers the opening of the vagina at birth but usually perforates spontaneously before puberty. If the initial opening is small it may tear, with slight loss of blood, at the first occasion of sexual intercourse.

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hy·men (hiґmən) [Gr. hymēn membrane] [TA] the membranous fold that partially or wholly occludes the external orifice of the vagina. hymenal adj

Medical dictionary. 2011.