Question: What is Virginity?

hi, I am worried that ive lost my virginity and really didn’t want to. It is quite unusual I think but I believe ive only had attempts at penetration by my ex boyfriend. I think I still have a hymen but there was some slight bleeding. I was always tense but sometimes he did get further than other times. I would just like to know how likely it is that im still a virgin after those attempts. Also it hurt every time so how likely is it that penetration didn’t actually happen. I still feel like I haven’t had the full experience. Thankyou.

This is a great question, thanks for writing in! We’re told growing up that virginity means something very very specific. That’s exactly what you think it is in your question: when a penis goes inside of your vagina you’ve had sex for the first time and lost your virginity. But that opens up a lot of questions. How far does it have to go in? Does it have to go in all the way? What if you lost your hymen before you had sex when you were rough housing or horse back riding or some other activity that wasn’t sexual? What if you were born without a hymen? What if you have no interest in ever having a penis inside of you – like if you’re a lesbian? Does this mean all lesbians are virgins? And what about men? Are all men virgins? How is their virginity protected and measured?

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In truth, the concept of virginity is something that is made up to shame women for their sexuality. The concept of virginity doesn’t leave room for the real experiences women have – like yours. It is fairly common for sex to hurt the first time whether or not you still have your hymen. There are a whole ton of factors that could contribute to that pain you felt. Let’s go through that first.

1. The hymen doesn’t always “pop” all in one go. The material of the hymen can stretch out over time which means you might still have bits of your hymen after attempting to have penetrative sex once. You can look down with a mirror and look for your vaginal opening and see what things look like. It’s good to start doing this now to become accustomed to your anatomy, know where things are, and being able to recognize if something changes.

2. When a woman is aroused her body goes through changes. A few of those changes help make sex comfortable. The vagina will grow in size to accommodate a penis, and it will produce lubrication of its own to help things slide. If you’re not turned on (which often times being nervous prevents) the vagina might be a little more resistant to penetration.

3. Going slow and using lube are important to help any discomfort. Those are two things that should be included the first few times you have sex. You should also communicate with your partner throughout the sex to stay on the same page. Things like “go slower” or “that feels good” or “stop for a second.” You can even reach down and help direct them if that helps.

Aside from vaginal penetrative sex, there are lots of other kinds of sex! Things like anal sex, oral sex, manual sex (fingering or hand jobs) or even just dry sex, where you rub up against one another. If someone had tons of oral sex every day I would not consider them to be particularly virginal. However, the thing about sex is that its very personal. For many people they really kick start their sexuality when they have that first vaginal penetrative sex. And I think it’s okay to consider that experience an important one. I just don’t think that you should feel badly if it doesn’t go magically the first go around, because it rarely does. Sex builds and grows on itself and the more you explore and experiment, the more you’ll grow. You’ll figure out what you like and don’t like and you’ll figure out what having sex is about.

Given that you’ve only tiptoed the line of having sex, if using the word virgin is important to you, I think you can very easily tell yourself that you haven’t really had that one sexual experience yet that takes you from “pre-sex” to “sexually active!!!” For myself, personally, as soon as you start exploring that kind of thing, you’ve already entered into the wondrous world of sexuality. And that shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. So a congratulations is deserved, as well.

As you go forward into making this happen again, make sure to talk to your partner about comfort. Use lube and go slowly. Work on foreplay to help yourself become more aroused. If you want, try different positions to find one that is most comfortable. Some women find being on top most comfortable because they can guide things in and go at their own pace. Others find man on top more comfortable because they can work on the difficult bits on their own and you can focus on enjoying or relaxing.


One last word of advice as someone who now knows more than she did when she first started fooling around: sex isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something you do with someone else for the mutual pleasure of both of you. If something doesn’t feel good for you, speak up, and try to find ways to make it feel better. One small thing you can do is play with your clit while he’s inside of you. Most women cannot orgasm without stimulation on their clit and so one quick way to make sex feel better is to reach down there and touch yourself. There are some positions that stimulate the clit (where their body rubs against your body just right) but those positions can be difficult to find and perfect, especially as you’re finding your way.

Don’t be afraid to readjust, go add more lube, reach down and touch yourself, look him in the eyes, grab him around the back, kiss him, interact. Don’t be afraid to tell him what you want. Don’t be afraid to ask him what he liked. Make the experience one that you’re both deeply involved in. And have fun.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit at the top by hitting ask advice and I’ll answer it on my blog. 

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