Monday, June 17, 2024

Virginity pills: A misogynistic practice that does more harm than good

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Misogyny can come in various forms, in different shapes and sizes and this time it is in the form of a capsule that loudly claims to restore women’s virginity. The Pioneer decides to break the capsule and unearth the cause and effect of such products as our health care professionals warn against the usage.

Tanisha Saxena

while we are equipped with modern education and experience that we pat ourselves on the back and gleam with pride, it is disheartening to see that our obsession with virgin brides, therefore, deeming chastity as quality continues. And recently it has led to the development of a bizarre product called virginity pills.

“Maybe you are no longer a virgin and are looking for a simple and quick solution to prove.” Or “#Fake virginity capsule regain hymn in 2 mins” — reads the description of pills that claims to “restore” women’s virginity.

Virginity pills are capsules that are supposed to be inserted inside one’s vagina. It is preferably inserted an hour or two before expected sexual intercourse. Upon intercourse, the capsule mix with the body’s vaginal secretion and flows as blood on the sheets. Marketed as a non-surgical approach, at first glance these pills secrete blood which seems natural. Virginity pills are self-dissolving capsules containing blood powder in them, which does the work of the vaginal blood flow, thereby ‘marking virginity’ post intercourse.

Dr. Esha Chainani an Obstetrician, Gynaecologist, and Laparoscopic surgeon, at Surya Hospital, Santacruz explains, “Virginity is a rubbish concept and it’s not scientific. I can’t believe we are talking about hymen’s rupture to prove virginity in 2023! In fact, proving virginity is a social construct. No doctor or medical professional studies virginity in medical college. Hence, the entire concept of virginity pills is nonsense. For people who believe in the concept of rupture of the hymen, first of all, it is absolutely not necessary that a woman will bleed after the first intercourse. Secondly, the hymen can break because of non-intercourse trauma like these days women and young girls use tampons and menstrual cups that could stretch the hymen, or rigorous activities and exercises. It is not scientifically suggested to “judge” if a woman does not bleed during the first intercourse.”

Medical professionals warn women against using virginity blood powder capsules or other such products as there’s no evidence of what these capsules clearly constitute. Moreover, inserting anything inside the vagina is harmful unless the doctors approve. Blood, to be specific when remaining outside is a culture medium of bacterial growth and leads to infection. A number of tests must be performed before approving the usage of such products. It can cause deadly infections including HIV.

Dr. Esha also highlighted that some online stores sell pills containing pigs’ blood. It is extremely important to note and be cautious about it because we do not advise using anything like that. If a woman really needs the hymen to be intact, they can opt for surgery. However, using products with no medical reliability can cause UTIs, bacterial infections, or irreversible damage.

As per a study by Medical news today, One of the biggest myths about first-time vaginal sex is that a female’s hymen — a thin, elastic membrane that lines the opening of the vagina — will break, causing bleeding and pain. People sometimes call this “popping the cherry.” However, that’s absolutely false. It is high time that we need to stop carrying out such unscientific practices which is misogynistic in nature.

Dr. Nirmala. A. Papalkar, Consultant Urogynecologist, Minimal access and Robotic Surgeon further informs, “The availability of such products or even an idea like this in the market being circulated is I believe a created thing/myth where someone just wants us to believe in an imaginary concept. There are many other serious issues that women are facing. They are not aware of their reproductive rights and most importantly lack of sex education in our society, we need to address these first. Also, there are no scientific evidences that tells us the composition of these pills then to go into the side effects in itself is like digging into myth.”

It is indeed unbelievable that while we claim to be more inclusive and in fact trying to give space to LGBT+ community, we terribly failed as a society. Since time immemorial, women have been subjected to various archaic misogynistic methods to prove their chastity. Medical science say that some women are born without a hymen while some lose this completely irrelevant and non-functional tissue in the body very early on in their childhood owing to exercises such as swimming, cycling, or gymnastics. But unfortunately, our obsession with a woman’s chastity and vagina has led to products like virginity pills and hymen restoration surgeries and trying to make it all seem “normal.” Is it even a thing? Buying fake blood pills?

To shed light on a psychological angle behind the so-called virginity pills, we have Psychologist, Kavitha, who has been practicing in Hyderabad since a decade now. “The concept is an insult to women as it implies only the woman is liable to prove her chastity which is absolute crap. When the world is navigating towards gender equality, breaking the glass ceiling, and zero tolerance for GBV, this comes like a joke! Preposterous to think that in 2023, we are even giving permission for this drug to be manufactured? A woman’s character does not lie in her vagina! Unless women themselves recognise this, such attempts to subjugate a woman will continue unabated. More than men being patriarchal, I fear women who are patriarchal because they feed and enable patriarchy to an unbelievable extent!”

Meanwhile, Meghna Pant, author and screenwriter sums up the discourse by stating, “For some reason, the virginity of a woman is still (sadly) considered a big deal in India. Every single day, millions and millions of girls around the country who get married, or are looking to get married, deal with being questioned about the status of their sex life (or lack thereof) by new husbands, in-laws, family and friends. There is therefore a whole industry around hymen reconstruction and virginity pills, hoping to trick their in-laws and husbands.”

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