The classic symptoms of a torn or broken hymen include pain at the site and bleeding. The hymen can be broken via sexual intercourse, vigorous exercise or medical examinations, according to About.com. The hymen also can recede on its own, though sometimes it survives the first act of sexual intercourse.
The hymen is a membrane that most, but not all, girls have at birth that partially occludes the opening of the vagina. It is capable of repairing minor damage, and it undergoes changes in shape, size and thickness throughout a woman's life, according to HowStuffWorks.
Hymens serve no clear purpose in the sexual anatomy of humans, and the presence or absence of a hymen indicates very little about the woman's sexual health or history, writes Jennifer Heisler, RN, for About.com.
Some hymens are thin and tenuous, and can be broken easily, while others are thicker and more resilient, according to HowStuffWorks. For this reason, it can be difficult to generalize about the causes of a torn hymen. Tampon use, exercise and penetrative sexual acts all are capable of causing a tear. It should be noted that any pain or non-menstrual bleeding from the vagina might be cause for medical attention and should be examined by a gynecologist.