A freedom of information request has revealed that a number of women in the UK are having their virginity "repaired" on the National Health Service (NHS). Between 2007 and 2017, at least 109 women had the elective surgery, the Metro reports.
Hymens are thin layers of skin that partially cover the vaginal opening, which often tear during intercourse, tampon insertion, riding a horse, or even vigorous exercise. Hymenoplasty operations involve repairing the hymen by creating scar tissue that will tear the next time a woman has sex.
The procedure takes around half an hour, and can be performed under local or general anesthetic. The freedom of information request has revealed that the NHS has spent at least £35,000 ($47,500) providing the service, the Times reports.
The cost of the service has led to many people and prominent outrage specialists complaining about the service being offered on the NHS.
Before we get our moral outrage hats on (we're looking at you, Daily Mail commenters), let's look at the facts.
First off, let's get it out of the way: The majority of these women were not Muslim by religion. Most were not religious at all, or had a Christian background. So leave this racist nonsense at the door.
Some of the hospitals kept records of the religion of their patients. Fifteen of these women classed themselves as Christian, 23 had no religion, and two were Muslim.
It's also not a case of women wanting to be "pure" for their husbands.
Hospitals were also able to provide relationship status for 59 of the women. Forty-eight were single, six were married or in a civil partnership, two were divorced, and three did not want to say. Therefore, over 80 percent of the women were single, suggesting they weren't getting the surgery in order to please a specific partner.
These aren't the only terrible assumptions flying around online, with many women having the surgery being called "sluts" by angry men with cartoon profile pictures and 23 followers.
So why do women get the surgery, and why is it offered on the NHS?
Some women are offered the surgery as part of the psychological healing process after being raped or sexually abused, Dr Natalia Novikova told Health24. Under the health authority rules in the UK, women can have the surgery on the NHS for psychological or physical concerns.
"A lot of people have a bad experience for their first time" Harley Street relationship counselor Louise Van der Velde told the Metro. "Maybe because people have been let down by that and it doesn’t end up being what they want, they want to do it again."
This would not be the first option considered by doctors, either. A spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told the Daily Mail that medical professionals should first seek to reassure women about variations in female genitalia and explore the reasons behind the request before suggesting surgery as an option.