Fri | Mar 23, 2018

Garth Rattray | Immaculate vs ejaculate conception

Published:Monday | July 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM

I was intrigued by a recent BBC piece on Tunisian women who want to be virgins again. Husbands expect their young brides to be virgins. This has led to an increasing number of hymenoplasty (hynaecological) surgical procedures to reconstruct 'virginity'.

This situation reminds me of a recent comical picture of a 30-something, churchy-looking woman with a caption that read, "I am proud to be a virgin and I will remain a virgin till I die, because I want to be a good example to all my children."

And, there's an amusing anecdote of a doctor who saw a young lady who wasn't feeling well. After testing her urine and examining her, he announced, "Well, young lady, you are pregnant." This precipitated a torrent of angry words all directed at the surprised physician. She ranted and raged about how impossible it was because she had never had sexual intercourse in her entire life.

During her tirade, the doc repeatedly parted the drapes of his office window and stared up at the sky. Miffed and non-plussed, she tersely asked him, "What the hell are you doing?!" The doc calmly replied, "The last time that this occurred, there was a star in the East."

Of course, as far as Christianity is concerned, Mary was a virgin, immaculate when she conceived Jeshua (Jesus). An angel of the Lord appeared on to her and announced her upcoming pregnancy. This caused a big uproar, since the teenage girl was a virgin and betrothed to Joseph, who was several years her senior and said that he had not laid a hand (or any other part of his anatomy) on, beside, above, below or within her.

But sceptics (some call them blasphemers) dare to wonder if perhaps Mary was impregnated by someone else or by Joseph, who figured that heavy petting could never end in conception. It is said that in order to be a true Christian, one must believe in the virgin birth of Jeshua, so, that's that, I suppose.


Wrong concept


Many people have the wrong concept of 'virginity'. I once saw a 24-year-old female patient who had a paucity of menstruation for several months before coming in to check it out. By then, her skirts were becoming tight around the waist and she felt lethargic. She turned out to be 20 weeks pregnant. Shocked into total silence, the foundations of her life, her chastity, church and upstanding family values, shaken and crumbling faster than the Star Ship Enterprise doing Warp 9, she stared off into space before regaining some modicum of composure. She 'confessed' that she never actually had full, penetrative intercourse but that her 'friend' was fooling around and ejaculated at the rim of her vagina.

Many females equate virginity with an intact and unstretched hymen. They 'sing' about their hymen as if it were a hymn (see how similar the two words are?). But nothing is further from the truth. Hymens are not completely sealed, unless they are anatomically anomalous. Some females are virgo intacta, with hymens that have a fairly large, central opening.


Unfortunate females


Some have openings so large that they appear to have already been stretched. It begs the question, what about those few unfortunate females who never had any kind of vaginal intercourse but underwent a medical procedure that disrupted or stretched her hymen - are they still virgins? And, what about those who pleasured themselves with a sex toy and stretched their own hymens, are they still virgins? Some claim that riding a bicycle can disrupt the hymen (yeah, right). On the other hand, women have gone into labour with intact hymens - are they virgins?

Then there are those females who have never engaged in any type of peno-vaginal penetration in order to remain 'virginal' for a special guy. However, they engage in oral and/or anal sexual intercourse. Are they still virgins? Does engaging in sexual intercourse other than vaginal penetration mean that a female has lost her virginity?

Sexual virginity applies only to absolutely chaste individuals. Any kind of sexual relationship (involving the genitals) means that that person is no longer a virgin. And, as far as pregnancy is concerned, the only effective contraceptive is complete peno-vaginal abstinence. Otherwise, there could be an ejaculate conception.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to