a membrane; from Hymen, the god of marriage, as by it is usually understood the membrane which appears in the form of a crescent, situated at the entrance of the vagina, called also claustrum vir-ginitatis, eugeos, and bucton; supposed to be torn in the first intercourse with man. When this membrane is ruptured, it is shrivelled up, and forms the carunculae myrtiformes. (See Caruncula.) It naturally shrinks with years, or is torn by straining, and sometimes disappears before the age of twenty: it can, therefore, be no proof of virginity.
In infants this membrane is shrivelled, and appears a mere rugosity, so that De Graaf thought it wanting: in others it closes up the urethra, that the urine cannot be voided; or the vagina, that the menses cannot flow and an operation is necessary.
When the mark of perforation cannot be seen, the cure was thought impracticable; but a trochar and ca-nula have been found to succeed, though a passage of four inches was perforated before the end was obtained. See Heister's Surgery; Edinburgh Medical Commentaries; Dr. Sherwin's Account of an Imperforated Hymen Successfully Treated; Medical Records and Researches, 1798.