What it's Like Getting Surgery on Your Vagina: A Hymenectomy Story

At the tender age of 13, Mother Nature bestowed her glorious gift of my first period. I officially felt like a woman that could conquer the world. I felt superior to the tweens around me that begged for their first cycle. I knew the basic steps to handle a period was using a pad or a tampon, but at the time I only felt comfortable with a pad. I used maxi pads for 2 years until I began to fancy the idea of possibly using a tampon. At this time, we were going on our annual vacation and I knew I would be on my period that week. My family started to continually pressure me into the use of tampons. I can’t even tell you the number of hours I spent in a bathroom trying to push a tampon up into me to please them. It felt foreign and uncomfortable. I didn’t even think I had a hole down there because everyone told me it would just slide up. Well, it didn’t. I cried a lot more about it than I probably should have. My friends began to tell me that I was weird and my family told me I was overthinking it. I felt like I was doing everything wrong and it was my body that I had control of. I was ashamed.

5 years I spent only using pads. 5 years. Let that sink in. I missed countless amounts of swimming on vacations, classes in school, and recreational activity because my period held me back due to my heavy flow of 8 days. My family never understood why I couldn’t use a tampon. I once had my step-mom tell me, “If you were comfortable with it, I’ll just put a tampon in you myself to show you it’s not that hard.” That grossed me out beyond belief. Like, I’m glad we’re close enough that you feel like you can tell me that… but I will never feel comfortable with it. But it wasn’t until I moved out on my own, I grew weary of using pads. Thank heavens that I went to a dermatologist that suggested I use birth control for my skin to clear up my acne, this stopped my periods. But it didn’t stop my obsession with thinking something was still wrong with me down ‘there.’ So, I went to my first gynecologist appointment to find out what was going on.

The experience was different, to say the least. Sitting in a doctor’s office with no bottoms on causes you to feel quite vulnerable. It’s an all new meaning to the saying, “I can feel the breeze.” Well, Doctor Bennett came in and said, “Alright, I know this is awkward for you but I’ve seen plenty of vaginas. Don’t feel nervous.” To my surprise, this eased me. I proceeded to spread my legs and let her dive on in. She stuck her finger up me which was honestly so painful! I mean, I’m like the most virgin a virgin could get. My vagina had never seen the light of day. It was the first thing that had ever gone... up me. The doctor looked at me concerned. She took her finger out and just was blunt with it, “You’re going to need surgery.” 

You know in movies when everything stops and the camera zooms in on the character’s face when they were told horrible news? Yeah. That’s exactly how it felt. Never had I ever once considered surgery was needed. I was the cautious kid growing up who hated the unknown. She told me that my hole was not like a normal girl. It was too ‘tight’ and needed to be opened. She called the procedure a hymenectomy. Pregnant women receive this before they go into labor to ensure that there won’t be issues during labor. They cut the opening to make it easier and more accessible for the baby to be born. I began to tear up in the doctor’s office. I felt beyond freakish in there; I didn’t feel normal. It was as if my femininity was cut in half. But I told her I would go through with it because I knew if I didn’t solve it now, I would still have to go through with it in the future.

Fast forward 2 months. It was the day I was to have surgery. My sister picked me up at my house and was a little too excited to be there. She kept smiling and winking at me, telling me “Today is the day you become a woman.” When all I can think in my head, I thought that’s what getting a period was supposed to do. Apparently not… 

Everyone in the hospital was very supportive and extra nice. Except they all thought I was getting married, because why else would I be having surgery on my vagina if it wasn’t to have sex? They put me into a hideous hospital gown and a shower cap, but the worst part of all was the yellow grip socks. Again, my femininity was barely holding on at this point… After the IV and the giant explanation of how the surgery would work, I was wheeled into the operating room. I was alone and scared. Almost instantaneously the anesthesiologist popped over my head and uttered, “Sweet Dreams.” Next thing I knew, I was out of the operating room with a nurse by my bed. “Rate the pain on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst.” At this point, I felt it. I FELT THE PAIN. “8 almost a 9!” I whisper shouted because I was just waking up. Within moments, I was down to a 3. I don’t know what she gave me, but it felt goooooood.

Within the hour, I was back in my sister’s car on my way home. The next 2 weeks were interesting, to say the least. It was feeling soreness here, cringing through the sting of peeing over there. But the worst part of all, WAS THE ITCH. The stitches, as they were healing, caused an unbearable itch. But you can’t just itch whenever you want to. You are a lady after all. You should do it in the privacy of your own home. Well, it just so happened that it was the busiest week of my life. Hooray for smiling through the pain on the outside while crying and screaming on the inside!

Well after recovery, I became very aware of my vagina. And I’m honestly so excited that I did. I’ve never felt so in touch with femininity than I have now. I’ve yet to use a tampon due to the fact I was put on birth control, and I’m sure I’m still going to have to work through the initial fear I’ve associated with tampons, but I feel refreshed and new. I’ve never felt more like a woman than I do now. I think it’s really important we take notice of ourselves ‘down there’ because it’s one of the most empowering things I’ve ever done and I want everyone else to feel this way. It fuels your spirit, honestly. This journey taught me to be okay with my body and to be okay with taking the steps to bringing myself to my full potential. I wish talking about vaginas, periods, and hymenectomies for that matter, was acceptable in the society we live in. That’s why it’s up to us to be open minded and to hear others out when they’re in need of acceptance. We can change the norm, we just have to be willing to re-educate the people we know.