Photo: Chris Liu, Unsplash

I was 14. I woke up one Shabbat morning doubled over in excruciating pain. My mother rushed to a local doctor who advised calling an ambulance. I was taken to the local hospital and operated on that night.

I had an imperforate hymen; a congenital disorder where a hymen without an opening, obstructs the vagina. I was 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10,000 females, depends whom you ask. It’s not so great to be special. When I came around after surgery, the doctor handed my care over to the nursing staff saying: oh, don’t worry, you’re still a virgin. About eight years later I wished I could go back to that day and, shake her. Take it all out! Remove the darned thing.

I was 22. Eight years later, it was all but forgotten or irrelevant; I had married and we had made a joint, conscious decision not to consummate our marriage on our wedding night. And it was a good thing we didn’t bother. We did try once or twice during the sheva brachot week but nothing too serious; nothing to get stressed about.

And then we got a bit stressed; something was very, very wrong. Or as I put it, I must have been mehadrin min hamehadrin virgin and I was definitely worth more cows. There was only so much trying you can do before giving up. It didn’t seem or feel remotely normal. He didn’t even fit inside me, it was like there was a brick wall of muscle there. How long could you fumble without getting serious help? It was two months before someone understood? A sympathetic dayan referred us to his gynecologist friend who saw us pretty quickly. Until then, many were just saying take some diazepam or try some wine.

She took us seriously, oh what joy to hear the words that we weren’t crazy at all! She could barely get the top of her pinkie finger inside me.There was no way we would have dealt with this ourselves. It was also oddly gratifying to hear that this was the worst case she had ever seen–we all have our oddities and this, alas, was mine.

Apparently what had happened all those years before, was that the surgeon had just made an incision instead of removing the whole hymen; it was enough for my period to drip out slowly, and that’s it, not enough to actually have sex. And apparently it was an extremely tough hymen. Impenetrable.

After about a month, I had it surgically removed and when the scar tissue healed, I started using vaginal dilators to enlarge the vagina, and relax the internal muscles. Making time for it was annoying and boring…work? It turned sex into a chore. Something my body had to be prepared for, softened like tough slab of meat and formed into something else that would accept a man and one day