Virginity is generally defined as a state of a person who has never gotten involved in sexual intercourse. In present times the concept of virginity can mean distinct things to many persons and among cultures. Although most women haven’t engaged in vaginal penetration, but have had other kinds of sex like oral sex or anal sex, may or may not necessarily see themselves as virgins. Others believe that “rape” and “sexual assault” can’t be considered as sex because no consent was given.
The idea of female “virginity” has an intricate history since the beginning of man. Unfortunately, for a long time it’s been wrongly linked to the breaking of the hymen. In most customs and traditions “hymen” is considered the treasured prize a woman can give to her husband as a part that she has not had sex before – usually as a symbol of purity. In most countries like France, have recently under French law – virginity cannot be considered as an “essential quality’ for a valid marriage.
In reality, the state of the hymen has nothing to do with virginity or sexual experience. Having a hymen and being a virgin are dissimilar [explained as you read on]. While most women are born without a hymen, others lose theirs through physical activities such a bike riding, horse riding etc. nonetheless, many women retain their hymens even through early sexual exploration.
What’s A Hymen?
The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina. Unlike, the common belief, the hymen isn’t a flat piece of paper that covers the vagina – if it were so, women would be incapable of menstruating before they lose their virginity because no opening for menstrual blood to flow out.
Alexandra Eisler a health and sex educator from Healthy Teen Network tells TEEN vogue “think of the hymen like tissue paper, it can stretch or tear or easily rub away. People make a big deal about whether you bleed the first time you may have sex, but the idea of ‘popping your cherry’ is not the momentous event that a lot of people think it is.” What this means is that the concept of “popping your cherry” is incorrect.
Even for a woman with whole hymen, she may or may not a less amount of blood after penetrative se and may or may not be painful per se – this is solely dependent on the flexibility of the hymenal tissue.
Take home message: Every woman’s body is different and so will her first experience with sexual penetration.
What you should know exactly about sexual activity and the hymen [further explained]
1. You’re in control
Virginity is not what someone takes from you but what you willingly give. Virginity is an aspect of a male or female life that he or she decides to change freely without force or being oppressed to do so. You’re free to explore or experience sexual intimacy with someone of your choice – you chose to change it, no one else.
Eider says “the most important thing is to keep yourself safe and do something you feel good about [he recommends you] take it slow and really know what’s comfortable for you and your body, what’s going on down there and relax about a lot of it.”
2. Don’t look for it, you can’t see your hymen
If you try looking for your hymen using a mirror and a torch [even if your hymen is still intact] you won’t be able to see it. The hymen is the same color as the vagina blending in perfectly. It is almost impossible to feel it with your fingers, likewise your partners if you plan to go exploring the exact location.
3. Your hymen doesn’t “pop” or “break”
Unlike common belief, your hymen doesn’t break into two like a twig during first penis – vaginal penetration. The hymen usually thins over time meaning it could already be open even without penetrative sex.
The hymen also has an opening in it so that menstrual blood and vaginal secretions can be removed. Think about it – if the vagina was enclosed, how would you be able to menstruate? Hymeneal opening varies from woman to woman. While most women have multiple to few vaginal openings about 2% suffer from a rare medical condition that only surgery as treat called imperforate hymen [closed hymen]
4. Virginity Testing are “illogical” and “inaccurate”
Virginity is a social construct and not based on medical facts. According to World Health Organization, virginity test aka two-finger testing is unscientific, harmful and a violation of a woman and girl’s human rights. Eisler tells VOGUE “virginity is built by social norms and beliefs, even if it doesn’t have a scientific basis.”
Your view on virginity depends on your personal belief, what your parents said and specific religious beliefs. Depending on what you view as sex – virginity has nothing to do with the state of your hymen or the lack there of. Not all virgins have “unperforated” hymen and it shouldn’t be expected as a number of other things can cause the hymen to tear and thin; this includes
- horseback riding
- climbing trees
In conclusion, virginity isn’t a medical concept and there’s no medical way to test virginity.
5. Sex isn’t only “Vaginal Penetration”
Loosing your virginity does not does not necessarily mean penis-vagina penetration.
Eider tells TEEN vogue it is ridiculous “when you think …if someone is a lesbian, knows they’re lesbian from day one and has never had sex with a [person with a penis], are they going to be a virgin until the day they die? If someone only has anal sex but not vaginal sex, are they still a virgin? ……. When we say sex, we mean oral, anal or vaginal sex.”
6. Not all vaginal penetration is sex
Non-sexual forms of penetration such as
- Inserting tampons
- Inserting menstrual cups
- Getting a trans-vaginal ultrasound
- Getting a pap smear
Can all tear your vaginal hymen.
7. y up to you to discuss your sexual history
You shouldn’t feel pressured to rove your sexual status. Since virginity testing has been proven illogical and inaccurate. If people care to know, all they need to do is simply “ask” and it’s entirely your decision to discuss it. Though, if you have any question don’t be scared to look for advice.