What is “virginity”: myth vs. truth

  • 4 min read
Virginity is a term associated with sex and sexuality. It is somewhat difficult to define, as it has slightly different meanings in different cultures. For many people, losing one’s virginity means having penetrative, vaginal sex for the first time. For others, it includes more forms of sexual interactions.

For the sake of this conversation, let’s adopt the wider definition of virginity: being a virgin implies not having had sexual relations.

Is virginity really a “big deal”?

Losing one’s virginity is a very big deal for many people, especially young adults. Like sexuality, the concept and moral weight of virginity is something very personal, and very intimate. The way a person sees virginity depends a lot on their social, cultural and religious background, although it is commonly seen as important – like having your first period, kissing someone for the first time, or being in love.

And let us just add that there is not the right age to lose your virginity. Some people prefer to wait for marriage, some don’t. And both are ok. The most important thing is to not feel pressured to do anything you aren’t sure you want to do. When to lose your virginity is something for you to decide.

But bear in mind, having sex – and for the first time, even! – is something that can have a big impact on your life, so it should be something that you do when you are ready. Many people, both young men and young women had sex for the first time because they felt they had to, wish they would have waited until they were more confident.

Also, remember that there is such a thing as “age of consent”, which is a legal notion and is predicted by the law. The age of consent is the minimum age at which a person is considered to be able to consent to have sexual relations. This age varies from country to country but is generally somewhere between 14 and 18 years old. This law exists to protect young people from being coerced into something they don’t want.

Let’s go over some myths about virginity:

What are some myths surrounding the concept of “virginity”?

Virginity is the same as breaking the hymen.

No. Not only may the hymen not even tear while having sexual intercourse, but it can also tear for unrelated reasons like a fall, exercise, a bad stretch, etc. Although rare, some women are even born without a hymen.

If a woman doesn’t bleed in the first sexual intercourse, she was not a virgin.

Wrong. Bleeding, during the first time a woman has penetrative sex, does not always happen. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it happens the second time, sometimes it happens after many times, sometimes it never happens. A small amount of bleeding, that might or might not, correspond to the tearing of the hymen, can happen even before sexual intercourse, for many reasons.

The hymen only tears with penetrative sex.

Nope. The hymen is a thin membrane that covers part of the entrance of the vagina. This membrane is normally stronger in children and gets more elastic or flexible with puberty. The opening in the hymen is usually large enough that period blood, vaginal fluid, or tampons can pass without tearing it.

It always hurts when you lose your virginity.

Wrong again. When someone has intercourse for the first time, it might hurt a little, it might hurt a lot, or it might not hurt at all. Many times, this doesn’t even have anything to do with the tearing of the hymen, but rather with some tension, nerves, and not enough lubrication.

Women should be virgins until marriage.

Not necessarily. Every woman is different, and they can and should choose for themselves. The only important thing is to know that the concept of virginity is a social construct and does not measure anyone’s worth. As such, any person should only have sex when they feel ready and comfortable.

It’s impossible to get pregnant for the first time.

No, no, no, no! Not true! Women can get pregnant anytime there is unprotected sex, and the semen gets in contact with the vagina. The same goes for STIs! Protection, always!

If someone is on the pill, they are not a virgin.

Lies. Birth control has a primary use: to avoid unwanted pregnancies, however, it is used for more reasons. Some women have hormonal problems and take specific medication or even birth control to keep them in check. Birth control can help with acne, PMS symptoms, hormonal dysregulation, and so on.

It is possible to tell if someone is or isn’t a virgin by performing a “virginity test”.

Not at all. Virginity is not a biological concept, and there is no medical procedure to “test” virginity. There is a very harmful practice called “virginity testing” used in girls in some countries that is very flawed and not accurate at all. This practice relies on the examination of the hymen but, as we’ve said, having an “intact” hymen and virginity are not the same thing.

Take care, Of yourself. Of your planet. Of your vagina.

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