Hymen: a Long-standing Eponym and Myth in Terminologia Anatomica

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Jorge Eduardo Duque Parra; Bélgica Vásquez; Laura García & Mariano del Sol


n Terminologia Anatomica the term hymen is identi ed with the number 3530. It is a small mem- branous tissue that normally occupies a part of the external vaginal opening in women. The relevance of the term hymen has been scarcely addressed in the literature of the anatomical terminology eld. Therefore, the objective of this work was to analyze this term, verify its etymology and functionality, and determine how it has been considered in certain cultural clinical and legal aspects. The term hymen comes from the Latin hymen, borrowed from the Greek hymḗn ὑμήν , which means membrane. With the general value of any membrane, it was used in Greece from the 5th century BC, however, through a phenomenon of Latin specialization, from the 1st and 2nd cen- turiesAD,thetermwasusedapplyingitscurrentmeaning. Its origin comes from the name of the Greek god of marriage called Hymenaeus, which links the term to an eponym and a myth at the same time. Despite the above, we believe that its conservation in Terminologia Anatomica could be due to its long history, even though there may be better options to name this structure. The hymen does not have a known biological function, however, it has been highly valued at a cultural, clinical and legal level, in which the physical examination has determined conclusions about the sexual history of women and girls even when the evidence shows that it is not an accurate or reliable proof of sexual activity.

KEY WORDS: Hymen; Membrane; Terminologia Anatomica.

How to cite this article

DUQUE, P. J. E.; VÁSQUEZ, B.; GARCÍA, L. & DEL SOL, M. Hymen: a long-standing eponym and myth in Terminologia Anatomica. Int. J. Morphol., 40(5):1415- 1419, 2022.