What is virginity?
Virginity means different things to different people. Simply put, a virgin is someone who has never had sexual intercourse before. But people define sex differently.
What is sex, and how is the hymen involved?
The most common definition of sex is the physical definition of sexual intercourse: when a penis penetrates a vagina beyond the hymen. The hymen is a thin membrane at the entrance to the vagina. It is pinkish and ruffled in shape, and doesn’t stretch across the entire vagina but instead narrows the opening so that menstrual blood can still pass through.
Sometimes when a female has sex for the first time, the hymen can tear and it can bleed. However, the hymen does not always bleed. In fact, around half the time, a female won’t bleed the first time she has sex. This is because the hymen can stretch instead of tear. Whether or not your hymen stretches or tears, you might still feel pain the first time you have sex.
So, if someone says to you that you can tell who is a virgin because they will bleed when they first have sex, you can tell them that it is not always the case because hymens can stretch and not tear. Virginity is not a matter of simple anatomy – the hymen is not actually involved in virginity at all.
So what are other definitions of sex?
Now that we’ve taken away the link between the hymen and virginity, we can begin to look at other definitions of virginity. For example, the LGBTI community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) may not define themselves as virgins because they express sexual relations in other ways.
Another way to define sex is to consider the personal and emotional act of physically loving another human being, where sex is a complete act of the body and mind – not just the body.
So am I a virgin? That’s for you to decide.