My Vaginal Opening Is Covered By Flaps of Skin

Sat, 11/12/2011 - 10:55
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Hello Dr. Betty,

I seem to have a problem with my vaginal opening, it's covered by various sized flaps of skin. Not thin skin, either, they're a little thicker than a quarter. Now, I've taken a lot of time to research and find drawings and photos of vulvas/vagina openings to compare mine with. Some have been fairly similar in that the opening had an irregular border kind of like an open version of my my own, was mine not completely closed up. A good one that I found was in a 1978 copy of "Woman's Body: An Owner's Manual." Still, my "flaps" keep together like a clamshell, and I have to pull them apart to even get a look at the entrance itself. (It's really small, I'm assuming it's because I'm a 15 year old virgin.)

I'm worried that because these skin "flaps" are a bit difficult to move to see my vaginal entrance, and that I have to relax every muscle in my body to get them to separate naturally (I've only done it once), that I'll be a virgin forever. Having a penis or fingers (I'm bisexual, and would lose my virginity to either) just trying to push through seems like it'd be very painful, and not at all a good way to have a first sexual experience. So, after that long intro, my questions would be: a.) is having a covered vaginal entrance normal? b.) will I be able to have sex, use tampons, etc. c.) is there anything I can do to try to keep them apart so that they won't be clamshelled together all the time? and d.) if it's not normal or if there's no way to keep them apart, is surgery too drastic an option? I apologize for it getting to be so long, I really didn't intend it to be that way, but I wanted to supply as much relevant information as possible.
Thank you for your time,
M.

Dear M,

I'm not sure what you are referring to when you say, "my flaps keep together like a clam shell, and I have to pull them apart to even get a look at the entrance itself." I believe you are referring to your inner and outer labia. What is that same area called in the illustration your mentioned?

First let me ask you, what did you expect? A gaping hole? Nearly all vaginal entrances are small and/or partially hidden. Instead of being so focused on your vaginal opening, you'd be spending your time more constructively by locating your clitoris and exploring the sensations this powerful little organ can give you when you touch it gently with your fingers dipped in massage oil. I suspect you are thinking that sex with a partner will be vaginal penetration only. That's procreative sex and at your young age, a long way off I would assume. Learn how to give yourself orgasms with masturbation. That's the best preparation for a successful sex life later on.

Dr. Betty

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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My experience

Sat, 11/12/2011 - 17:32
Anonymous44 (not verified)

The answer to this question is very frustrating to me as a reader.  How about we actually give an answer to the girls question?  Sometimes these answers really give much to be desired.  She's worried about her body and she doesn't have a real way to compare her vaginal opening so lets not just act like her concerns don't matter!
Without seeing a photo of what you are talking about I can only go by the description and my experience.  Do what is right for you and see a gynecologist if it helps you!  When I was 15 my vaginal opening was pretty much the same.  Somehow obstructed by these "flaps" as you call them that meet together.  I could push them aside, but in their natural state they met to pretty much cover the opening.  I remember being really fearful about how penetrative sex was going to work.  Even though I had begun masturbating when I was a child and had been able to come from clitoral stimulation since I could remember, I still had this worry about my sexual function.  I fell in love at 15 and wanted to have intercourse with penetration with my boyfriend and was very scared about having those "flaps" torn.  I chose to wear away my hymen by myself over a few weeks.  I would masturbate until I was very relaxed and wet and then insert a small object inside me while I was masturbating to help stretch this skin.  I would do the penetration part every few days.  This did not completely stretch out that skin, but it did associate the penetration with pleasure, and when I did have penetrative sex with my boyfriend it wasn't traumatizing.  He knew I was a virgin and there was no pressure, I chose to have intercourse with me always on top at first so that I could sit down on to him as much as it was comfortable.  He probably didn't go all the way inside me until the 3rd time we tried this.  I do imagine it would have been awful had he been on top and in control of it because it would have been too fast.  At about the 7th time we had sex, I bled a little bit, and that was because we tried to do it standing up in the shower, and I think one of those little flaps finally ripped.  It didn't hurt at all though because the sex was pleasurable and I didn't notice the pain.  I am 21 now and have had regular penetrative sex since I lost my virginity and with rather well endowed partners, and can say that the opening to my vagina does not look like it did when I was 15.  Those little flaps are still there tucked inside the opening if I peek up there, but they are differently shaped from years of sex.  It is kind of like they just got eroded away with time.  If you have the same thing I did then you really have nothing to worry about.  The advice about massaging your vulva and vaginal opening with an oil while masturbating is helpful.  I would also second that it is very important to be able to bring yourself to orgasm before you engage in penetrative sex because that ability will offset any pain you may experience during intercourse.  I remember being terrified about the pain of losing my virginity because I hadn't explored penetration myself, and I am so glad that I ending up working my body up to it beforehand.  In my experience the mental fear was much much worse than the pain.  Loving your body as much as you can and masturbation can solve most of these worries.  I would experiment with a slim tampon applicator and if you are really physically unable to insert that, you should see a gynecologist because there should be a procedure they can do to open your hymen if that is the problem.  

what the what?

tif999's picture
Sun, 11/13/2011 - 10:05

i'm a little frustrated with your response, anonymous44- why would you tell her 'you should see a gynecologist'... for what? to have her hymen 'opened'?? HA! the hymen is a total and utter myth! and why oh why should she have her 'hymen' 'opened' by a medical professional? this young lady needs to start knowing and owning her body and that doesn't happen by going to the gyno and asking to have her 'hymen' 'opened'.

First of all, I felt

Sun, 11/13/2011 - 13:01
Merry (not verified)

First of all, I felt something similar to what this girl might be noticing when I was younger. I do remember that my inner labia were very close together (to the point where I could not easily move a finger past them) but they have loosened up with time; however, I did not ever experience the pain she refers too. Also, I experienced what she describes as difficulty getting past her inner labia at a much younger age, prior to menarche, and the problem didn't continue after puberty.

Secondly, if she has done research, cannot find an explanation that fits her situation, and is concerned something might be wrong with her body then she may want to visit a gynecologist who could assure her that nothing is wrong with her body. Although, at 15, I'm not sure I would have been willing to book that kind of appt.

I am pretty sure she is not referring to her hymen. If she was talking about her hymen (which seems very unlikely from her description) then she may simply have many of those mucous folds and penetration (even with lubricant) may be uncomfortable for her at first.

Lastly, this girl sent in an email explaining a concern she had with her body. She had done some research and could find nothing that explained her situation. I don't think the appropriate respond is to ask if she expected "a gaping hole" in a somewhat sarcastic tone IMHO. Telling her to concentrate on her clit instead of trying to understand her body also maybe wasn't an appropriate response considering that she was trying to understand her labia + vagina not trying to learn how to orgasm.

All the same, utmost respect to you Ms. Dodson.

One of her questions was" [=

Sun, 11/13/2011 - 14:48
Anonymous44 (not verified)

One of her questions was" [= 14px; line-height: 22px]d.) if it's not normal or if there's no way to keep them apart, is surgery too drastic an option?" [/]I said "Do what is right for you and see a gynecologist if it helps you".  I wish I would have seen a gynecologist at that age just to answer of my questions that no one in my life could answer.  This girl asked in her original question about surgery.  SO I wanted to address that since it was not addressed in the original answer.  I feel my answer was actually an affirmation that she was normal and did not need surgery.  I also said "[= 14px; line-height: 22px]Loving your body as much as you can and masturbation can solve most of these worries."  The reason I brought up the procedure comment at the end, is that there is such as a thing that is called an "imperforate hymen" which almost completely blocks the flow of menstrual fluid.  That is something that should be addressed by a doctor.  It can cause blockages inside of the body.  She didn't mention any problems with her period so I didn't go into detail with that but it is a real variation of hymen that can occur in rare instances.  My whole post was intended to help her feel normal and share my experience.  I think we should all feel safe enough to ask a medical professional about any matter concerning our bodies.  Also the comment you made that "the hymen is an utter myth" is completely off.  It is a body part, that many women have, you can look that up.  You can say it's significance to a woman's virginity is a myth, and I'll agree with you on that, but it is not a mythological body part.  Perhaps you didn't read my whole comment because I believe the meat of my post was encouraging her to know and own her own body.  Anyway, to the original poster, I hope all this does help you, and I will check up on this thread if you have any more thoughts and if I can help you from my own experience I will, although I will not claim to be an expert, just a woman who shared some of your fears at your age.[/]

Girls, girls, please! Cut me some slack here.

Betty Dodson's picture
Sun, 11/13/2011 - 15:07

I'm answering 10 to 20 questions a day right now FREE to get a clearer picture on what's going on in puritanical USA. It's a mess out there! So if my tone or advice seems less than perfect, simply add your information without telling me what you feel is "inappropriate."I have never in my life focused on what might be considered "appropriate" or otherwise. Just sharing my information in a very spontaneous way.

I think Anonymous's advice to

Sun, 11/13/2011 - 16:56

I think Anonymous's advice to see a gynocologist is good. They can reasure M and give information and perspective about what is healthy and healthy includes a wide diversity of appearance and form.
Also M you might want to read This blog post by Kasini 
I think if I had a vagina I would want to comfortably penetrate with a dildo so all my main options for pleasure are available. I think pretty much everyone who has a clitorus should be able to use it to orgasm and it's lovely if you can come vaginally too. My anacdotal dialogues on the net tell me for the women who can't come vaginally penetration is still a really nice feeling. Most Sapphic women tell this to each other but guys should be told and accept the truth that a 3rd of women don't orgasm vaginally and a 3rd need clitoral stimulation as well.  M see a nice gynocologist or 2 and explore penetrating your vagina  in baby steps that are pleasureable. I think "losing your own virginity/vaginity" such that it means ability to enjoy penetration is the best, most gentle and empowering option. 

let me be clear...

tif999's picture
Sun, 11/13/2011 - 17:12

let me be clear, seeing a gyno for information and to maintain one's health is more than fine. however, to go see a gyno to have one's hymen 'opened' seems ridiculous to me since the hymen is a myth and i don't know of any type of medical procedure whereby a young woman's 'hymen' is 'opened' (at least nowadays)... i can't speak for all time.

Yes sorry tif I agree. Though

Sun, 11/13/2011 - 17:41

Yes sorry tif I agree. Though I don't think a gynocologist would perform any proceedure that wasn't in the patients best interests and only if there was a clear clinical need. A bit like performing a preputioplasty on a penis to free a very tight foreskin. We could all advise a young boy to slowly stretch until erections are comfortable but unless he sees an andrologist to see if that's possible and wether or not he might need some surgical help we just don't know from reading an email. And as far as I know there are some people who have very thick vaginal coroners who may need some specialist assistance. 

In response to tifs 1st

Sun, 11/13/2011 - 17:45
Anonymous44 (not verified)

In response to tifs 1st comment:
One of her questions was" d.) if it's not normal or if there's no way to keep them apart, is surgery too drastic an option?" I said "Do what is right for you and see a gynecologist if it helps you".  I wish I would have seen a gynecologist at that age just to answer of my questions that no one in my life could answer.  This girl asked in her original question about surgery.  SO I wanted to address that since it was not addressed in the original answer.  I feel my answer was actually an affirmation that she was normal and did not need surgery.  I also said "Loving your body as much as you can and masturbation can solve most of these worries."  The reason I brought up the procedure comment at the end, is that there is such as a thing that is called an "imperforate hymen" which almost completely blocks the flow of menstrual fluid.  That is something that should be addressed by a doctor.  It can cause blockages inside of the body.  She didn't mention any problems with her period so I didn't go into detail with that but it is a real variation of hymen that can occur in rare instances.  My whole post was intended to help her feel normal and share my experience.  I think we should all feel safe enough to ask a medical professional about any matter concerning our bodies.  Also the comment you made that "the hymen is an utter myth" is completely off.  It is a body part, that many women have, you can look that up.  You can say it's significance to a woman's virginity is a myth, and I'll agree with you on that, but it is not a mythological body part.  Perhaps you didn't read my whole comment because I believe the meat of my post was encouraging her to know and own her own body.  Anyway, to the original poster, I hope all this does help you, and I will check up on this thread if you have any more thoughts and if I can help you from my own experience I will, although I will not claim to be an expert, just a woman who shared some of your fears at your age.

If the hymen's a myth, why can I still see mine?

Sun, 11/13/2011 - 21:24

I'm definitely not a virgin between having a typical heterosexual sex life and having given birth vaginally 3 times (I'm also closer to menopause then menarche) but I definitely had a hymen and I can still see the tiny remants of it right by my vaginal opening. I'm definitely not mistaking that for my inner labia because my inner labia are hard to miss. Whether or not M is writing about her hymen or her inner labia is hard to discern by a written discription only. It is even hard for some medical professionals to tell the difference between the urethra and the vagina (although it doesn't sound like M is describing her urethra). But some women do have thick hymens. I believe intercourse was painful the first 2 times because I was not as enlightened as Kasini or Anonymous44 and let some idiot boy ram his penis into me. There is variation in the female body and while the hymen shouldn't be exalted as proof of virginity (why are men so into ramming their dicks into a physical barrier and causing pain anyway?), it does exist in quite a few women. There's also a condition called labial adhesion in which the inner labia do not seperate all the way. Usually that is diagnosed in babies with the cure either being an estrogen cream to seperate it or a quick nip with a scapel. So going to a GYN certainly wouldn't hurt even if it's only to get reassurance that everything is normal.
However, I think M deserves some kudos for examining her own sex organs. Just don't forget the clit. She is the source of pleasure in women.

The myth

Mon, 11/14/2011 - 19:46

Heylin wrote

"why are men so into ramming their dicks into a physical barrier and causing pain anyway?"
It's a domination fantasy, of the kind healthily concentualised by BDSM. 

I think the Hymen is a myth refers to the general notion of the inpenitral barrier described by the name hymen. The Swedish research that asserted this renamed the body part the vaginal coroner, which I like because it describes it more acurately. 

Quote:

  

Is that why I used to get asked if I was a virgin?

Mon, 11/14/2011 - 21:46

I remember at my first job, all these creepy men would ask me if I was still a virgin. I was kind of naive at the time and I don't even remember my own response but I wish my middle aged self could travel back in time and say, "Why, is your dick so small that you only want to fuck a girl who has no point of reference?" But maybe they liked the idea of making sixteen year old girls cry in pain. Creepy bastards!!! I know I freaked out my first time, more because we didn't use protection (I made him stop right away) then due to the pain. I'm like the case study of stupid sometimes. I recall a small amount of blood but being more terrified of getting pregnant my very first time. Thankfully I got some sponges and was able to get one worry out of the way. Still, looking back, I wish I had taken care of it Kasini's way.
Anyway, the hymen or vaginal coroner or whatever is usually not inpenetrable. I was wearing tampons for several years before having intercourse.

Have you seen a gynecologist

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 10:38

Have you seen a gynecologist yet? I think you should be asking for professional advice because only this way you can get the solution you need. I would tell you to buy threelac but most likely you'll need more investigations.

A lot of us seem to agree that seeing a GYN would be good

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 20:25

If you haven't seen one yet, M, it might be a good idea to have a pelvic exam. A GYN ARNP might be better, she would be more likely to show you if there is anything to be concerned about.

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