Like a virgin

Now available at a plastic surgeon's office near you: Hymenoplasty!

By Farhad Manjoo
Published December 16, 2005 9:49PM (EST)

Have you ever felt not so fresh? Somewhat less than pure? Used up, alone on cold winter nights, pining for your long lost innocence?

We thought so! Because according to the Wall Street Journal, many American women just like you are now clamoring to have their innocence surgically restored. Well, not exactly their innocence -- just their hymens, which, as anyone with access to Google can tell you, is about as reliable an indicator of virginity as a signed and notarized abstinence pledge. That is, not very reliable:'s honeymoon guide counsels that tampons and even "overzealous douching" can wreck the hymen of a virgin.

Still, as the Journal points out, some men -- and some conservative, not to say backward, cultures -- still consider an intact hymen the best proof of a woman's virtue. And for the women who'd like to please these men, now there's hymenoplasty, or, as the kids are calling it, "revirgination." In this costly surgical procedure a plastic surgeon "uses dissolvable stitches to reconnect the skin membrane that once partially covered the opening to the vagina," thereby making a girl who has been around the block a few times look like she has never even been out the house.

The Journal's trend-spotting data here is somewhat murky; the paper points to a general increase in the number of plastic surgeries in the U.S., but relies mostly on an upsurge in advertisements and anecdotal reports to support its claim of an increase in the number of women looking to become virgins once again.

The report is therefore more amusing than it is alarming -- though perhaps there is some cause for concern. Some women, the paper says, combine their hymenoplasties with extra procedures to tighten or in other ways shape their private parts, operations that have recently come in vogue as a way to bring back the spark to a cooled sex life. Yet not only is there no proof that such procedures actually enhance sex, there's evidence that they may detract from it; one woman tells the paper that it took months for her to enjoy sex after her operation.

And, then, of course, there's the question of cost. A hymenoplasty will put you out a couple of grand, minimum. As one doctor tells the paper, "It's a pretty expensive thing to do for one night." Instead, to really make your night special, why not just buy a nice teddy?

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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