What You Should Know Instead of These 7 Virginity Myths

People often talk about virginity in simple, black-and-white terms: have you had sex or not?

But being a virgin is a complicated idea with many different meanings. This is because being a virgin is not a medical term. What you think of as being a virgin usually depends on your culture and your religion. Because of all these ideas about virginity and the general lack of sex education, there is a lot of wrong information about what virginity is and who is or is not a virgin. Here are seven common myths about being a virgin and the truths you should know instead.

1. You're either a virgin or not.

People often talk about virginity as if it has a clear-cut meaning: either you're a virgin or you're not. But virginity is an idea, and different people have different ideas about what it means. Some people think that a person is a virgin until they've had PIV sex, while others say that oral sex (going down on, eating out, blow job), manual sex (fingering, hand job), and anal sex "count." Some people think that once you've had your first orgasm, you're no longer a virgin. Different people have different ideas about being a virgin. It does not have a set meaning. So, you can think about being a virgin however you want (if you want to think about it at all)!

But, just so you know, medical professionals think all of these sex acts are real. Even if you don't think something is "real" sex, you can still get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) from it. So, if you're having any kind of sex, make sure you tell your doctor "yes" when he or she asks if you're sexually active. Your provider doesn't care about the vague idea of "virginity." They care about your health and giving you the tools you need to take care of yourself.

2. Any kind of penetration counts, even with a tampon.

Do you think putting a tampon in is the same thing as having sex? No? Then using a tampon won't make you lose your virginity.

3. Doctors can tell if you've never been married.

Medical professionals can't tell if you've had sex or not, or if you have a penis or a vagina. Many people think that if a doctor looks at a woman's hymen and sees that it's been torn, they can tell if she's had sex or not. But this is not true at all. The hymen is a thin piece of skin that covers part of the vaginal opening. It is often, but not always, in the shape of a half-moon. Hymens get more flexible when a person hits puberty. Hymens can tear for a lot of different reasons, like doing the splits, putting in a tampon, or even having PIV sex. It is very hard, and sometimes even impossible, to tell if a hymen has been torn before. And they often don't even tear! Instead, the hymen stretches, like an elastic hair band.

It is true that hymens sometimes (but not often) cover the whole opening to the womb. This is called an imperforate hymen, and a minor surgery can fix it. It is also uncommon. Think about it: if the hymens covered the whole vaginal opening, how would period blood get out?

4. Partners can tell.

Partners can't tell if you've been sex before or not. Many people with a vagina don't bleed the first time they have PIV sex (see below), and vaginas don't "get loose" from sex. Again, your partner won't know if you've never been with anyone before unless you tell them. If you're worried that your partner will find out you're a virgin (or that they will find out you're not a virgin), you should ask yourself why. Are you worried about what they'll say? Are they willing to accept and understand? Have you ever talked about it? We've said it before, and we'll say it again: talking is an important part of sex. Your sexual history is your business and yours alone, but if you're worried about how your partner will react to it, it may be a sign that you shouldn't have sex with this person (or at this time in your life).

5. Other people can tell.

Do you start to see a pattern? No one can tell if you are a virgin or not. Having sex doesn't make you walk differently. Unless you tell them directly, they can't know.

6. Virgins will bleed their first time if they have a uterus.

Some people with vaginas do bleed during PIV sex, but this is not always the case. As we've already said, most people's hymens don't tear when they have sex. Instead, they stretch. But a lot of girls have been taught that their "first time" will hurt and involve blood. This makes a lot of people nervous, which makes their muscles tighter during sex and makes them dry out. This can lead to bleeding and pain in the uterus. But there are many ways to avoid this: take it slow, do a lot of pre-play, use lube, and talk to each other.

7.Sex isn't a big deal after you've "lost" your virginity.

The American culture's fixation on being a virgin makes it seem like sex is nothing to worry about after the first time. But that's not right. We've talked before about how powerful sex is, and that's always the case. Even if someone gave consent once, that doesn't mean they're fine with having sex again. Just because someone has sex with one person, it doesn't mean they're fine with having sex with anyone else.

People decide to have sex for a lot of different reasons, and they also decide to stop having sex for a lot of different reasons. Sex is not like getting on a train that you can't get off of. Whether or not you've had sex before, YOU get to decide if you have a sex life and what it's like.

The first version of this post came out in November 2016.



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