Hymenorrhaphy, or the Search for Lost Virginity

Regular Section “Subject, Subjectivities, and Practices of the Body in the Contemporary World”
By Houria Abdelouahed, Kirsten Ellerby

Today, as is demonstrated by the many forums and question and answer sites relating to this subject on the internet, many women resort to hymenoplasty. Hymenorrhaphy (or hymen reconstruction surgery) is a surgical procedure aimed at repairing the hymen. Work done with patients who ask for hymenorrhaphy, shows that their request is linked to the phantasmatic or psychic dimension of the woman.
Analytical work undertaken with a patient who wanted reconstruction of her hymen after an abortion, leads us to understand this desire for hymenorrhaphy as an expression of both the non-elaboration of mourning for the child that had been lost, and of the intensity of the bond with the father. In addition to these two aspects, we also find the fantasy of the virgin who gives birth.
The author of this article examines the question of virginity in different fields of research: psychoanalysis, anthropology, history, and myth.


  • virginity
  • hymen
  • masochism
  • fantasy
  • mourning
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info