This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
There is a wide-spread, an erroneous, and a most mischievous notion accepted among those not acquainted with anatomy, that unless marriage is a bloody rite, it is indicative of previous unchastity on the part of the bride. We have had instances brought to our knowledge by correspondents, where the most poignant agony, and the most cruelly unjust suspicions were the consequences of this unfounded belief. It seems to have become general from the perusal of those portions of Deuteronomy which lay down the Mosaic ritual of marriage, in which this test of virginity was considered final.
But there is every difference between the ancient Jewish maidens, brought up to an active live, married very young, and of a peculiar temperament, and our young women educated with lax muscles, and delicate frames, to habits of indolence and debility. The consummation of marriage with a virgin is by no means necessarily attended with a flow of blood; and the absence of this sign is not the slightest presumption against her former chastity. In stout blondes it is even the exception rather than the rule; and in all young women who have suffered from leucorrhoea, the parts are relaxed, and flowing does not occur.
So, too, the presence or absence of the hymen is no test. Frequently it is absent from birth, and in others it is of exceeding tenuity, or only partially represented. There is, in fact, no sign whatever which allows even an expert positively to say that a woman has or has not suffered the approaches of one of the opposite sex.
They are all quite as deceptive as that still practised in Albania, known as "the sieve test." A skin is stretched tightly across the top of a sieve, and the bride is requested to stand upon it. If the skin yields, she is a virgin. As it is very sure to do so, the Albanian bridegrooms are perfectly convinced of the chastity of their wives.
The true and only test which any man should look for is modesty in demeanor before marriage, absence both of assumed ignorance and a disagreeable familiarity, and a pure and religious frame of mind. Where these are present, he need not doubt that he has a faithful and a chaste wife.