Virginity is a funny thing in our society. There are many double standards, myths, and general misconceptions about having sex for the first time. Everyone has different cultures, beliefs, and thoughts surrounding virginity, and while there’s no “right time” to lose it, make sure that you feel ready.
MYTH: The only way to lose your virginity is penis-in-vagina sex.
REALITY: There are many different types of sex, and they mean different things to different people. This heteronormative ideal surrounding virginity excludes people who are in same-sex relationships, or people who don’t have opposite-sex partners. Virginity is a very personal thing, and there’s no “one way” to lose it.
MYTH: Using a tampon or masturbating means I’m not a virgin anymore.
REALITY: The hymen being broken or stretched by a tampon or your fingers doesn’t mean that you’re not a virgin anymore. You’re not a virgin anymore when you feel you arent; there are no definitive markers for virginity.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant the first time.
REALITY: If you have a vagina, you can get pregnant any time you are having sex without protection.
MYTH: If you have a vagina, first time penetrative sex is going to hurt.
REALITY: While pain might happen during first time sex, but this is different for everyone. The hymen (or “cherry”), is a thin piece of membrane that covers the opening of the vagina. For most, it wears away over time, and usually there are only remnants of it when becoming sexually active. But for others, the hymen hasn’t worn away much, or the parts that are left have never been stretched as much as they are during sex. This can cause some pain.
But, most of the time, pain during first time sex has nothing to do with the hymen. It’s usually about feeling nervous, scared, not being aroused enough, or not communicating to your partner that something hurts. Communication is ridiculously important in a sexual relationship, especially when having sex the first time.
MYTH: The intactness of the hymen is THE marker of virginity.
REALITY: As I said in the myth before, for most people, the hymen stretches and wears away over time. Common things like bike riding, exercising, tampon usage, and masturbation can stretch and tear the hymen. There are zero, I repeat zero, physical characteristics of virginity.
A little bit of misinformation (or maybe I just didn’t like the way it was phrased) here. The hymen (or vaginal corona) is a mucus membrane that is part way around the vagina. It does not cover the vagina in most cases. It stretches and does wear down but does not break. It, if you are very aroused and lubricated does not tear during sex because it stretches if you are well aroused and lubricated. If you are not aroused, or you are nervous or not experiencing enough lubrication it or other parts of your vagina may tear and cause pain. If you do have a hymen that covers the entire or most of the vagina you may need medical attention to remove it before you can experience penetration. The reasons why bike riding/tampons/masturbation can hurt or cause bleeding is simple trauma just like with sex. It may not be your hymen hurting/bleeding but may be another part. Both Betty Dodson and Laci Green both explain the “hymen” and the myths surrounding it in more detail. Also, I’d encourage anyone who wants to learn about the harmful myths surrounding first time sex to check out the purity myth.