3. The Paediatric Hymen

  1. John Gall3 and
  2. Jason Payne-James4
  1. S. C. Boos1 and
  2. J. McCann2

Published Online: 14 MAR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470973158.ch3

Current Practice in Forensic Medicine

Current Practice in Forensic Medicine

How to Cite

Boos, S. C. and McCann, J. (2011) The Paediatric Hymen, in Current Practice in Forensic Medicine (eds J. Gall and J. Payne-James), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470973158.ch3

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Royal Children's Hospital and Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne, Australia

  2. 4

    London Hospital Medical College, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

  2. 2

    University of Michigan's Medical, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2011
  2. Published Print: 4 FEB 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470744871

Online ISBN: 9780470973158



  • paediatric hymen - hymenal exam as a ‘test’ for virginity;
  • hymen, virginity and marriage association, a very old one - ‘hymen’ deriving from the Greek Hymenaios;
  • some cultures today, hymen examination by appointed experts - for demonstrating virginity (and purity) of women;
  • societies, hesitant in believing or dismissing allegations of sex crimes against children - based on the child's word alone, and sexual violation remaining high;
  • sensitivity, specificity, validity and reliability - findings on prepubertal hymen;
  • limitations of a hymenal examination - guide, application of a hymenal examination, testing whether a child was sexually abused;
  • genital findings in sexually abused girls, varying - abnormal hymenal findings in prepubertal girls involved in possible sexual abuse;
  • ‘Scars’, ‘attenuation’ of posterior hymenal rim - and ‘synechia’ attachments of hymen to vaginal wall;
  • knee-chest examination technique, in adolescents - abused children, understanding significance of examination, not finding it unduly traumatic;
  • suspected victims of sexual abuse, and the need for examination - immediately after alleged event, as hymenal injuries heal fast


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Introduction

  • Studies of normal anatomy

  • Studies of genital findings in sexually abused girls

  • Studies of acute injuries as they heal

  • A consideration of test reliability

  • Putting it all together

  • References