Rose By Any Other Name: Swedes Rename The Hymen

Members of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education have taken it upon themselves to rename the hymen. Its new moniker? "Vaginal Corona."

The press release explains that the new name came about last spring, when the Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) published a book "intended to dispel some of the myths surrounding the hymen and virginity." The book describes what the female genitals actually look like and what the hymen (whoops, sorry, vaginal corona) really is.

Apparently, the word "hymen" comes from the Greek word for membrane. In Swedish, the word of hymen was mödomshinna, which translates literally as "virginity membrane." However, the book explains that the hymen is actually made up of folds of mucous membrane. They also describe the appearance of the hymen:

Every woman's corona looks different - just like ear lobes, noses and labia - and differs in size, colour and shape... It is slightly pink, almost transparent, but if it's thicker it may look a little paler or whitish. It may resemble the petals of a rose or other flower, it may be carnation-shaped, or it may look like a jigsaw piece or half-moon.

Pretty!

More importantly, the booklet points out that the hymen has little to do with virginity. There is no such thing as "breaking" the hymen. The corona can be torn slightly, or experience minor trauma, but since the tissue is elastic, it is never entirely ruptured. Contrary to popular belief, the book claims that the hymen also can't be broken by a bike seat or riding a horse. RFSU secretary general Åsa Regnér explains:

The vaginal corona is a permanent part of a woman's body throughout her life. It doesn't disappear after she first has sexual intercourse, and most women don't bleed the first time. The myths surrounding the hymen were created to control women's freedom and sexuality. The only way to counteract this is by disseminating knowledge.

In order to do this, the RFSU has translated the book into several languages commonly spoken in Sweden. It makes for an interesting read - the discussion of the virginity myth is particularly good - and has taught me a couple new things about my lady parts. Unfortunately, I'm not sure the name is going to stick. While I only have good associations with the word "corona," its too hard not to think of it "with lime" rather than "carnation-shaped mucous membrane." And frankly, I prefer the former.

Time For More Accurate Terminology: Hymen Renamed "Vaginal Corona" [RFSU]
Hymen, I Hardly Knew Ya [Feministe]
Vaginal Corona Booklet (PDF) [RFSU]