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Info For Teens

What is Virginity?

Virginity means never having had sex. People may define "sex" differently. Most people agree that women and men lose their virginity the first time they have penile-vaginal intercourse. Many people also believe that people can lose their virginity through oral sex, anal intercourse, or other kinds of sex.

You might have lots of questions about virginity, and thatís normal. Here are answers to questions that are commonly asked about virginity.

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    Who's a virgin, and whoís not?

    Most people would say that a virgin is someone who's never had sex — and by "sex," they often mean penetration of the vagina by the penis. This dictionary definition sounds simple enough, but it leaves a whole bunch of people out of the picture.

    There are a lot of straight people who don’t think of themselves as virgins because they’ve had lots of other kinds of sex, like oral sex and anal sex. And then there are all the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people who may never have penile-vaginal sex, but who hardly think of themselves as virgins.

    Many people define sex in broader terms. For some, "sex" means vaginal, oral, or anal sex, while for others, it could mean mutual masturbation, manual stimulation (“hand job”), dry humping, or using sex toys to penetrate the vagina or anus. Lots of people feel that they "lose it" the first time they share an intimate sexual experience with someone else — not simply the first time penetration happens.

    Some also believe that people have to give consent to lose their virginity — that virgins who are raped, for example, do not lose their virginity.

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    Whatís a hymen?

    The hymen is a thin, fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening of a girlís vagina. Hymens have at least one opening that will allow menstrual flow out of the body. 

    The hymen can be stretched open the first time a girl has vaginal intercourse. Women may experience some pain or bleeding the first time they have vaginal intercourse if the hymen is stretched.

    Some people, and some cultures, believe that a woman whose hymen has been stretched open is no longer a virgin. But having a hymen and being a virgin are not the same thing. There are other ways that a woman can stretch her hymen, including using tampons, insertive masturbation, riding a bicycle, or doing gymnastics. And some girls are born with so little hymenal tissue that it appears they have none. 

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    Can my hymen grow back if I donít have sex for awhile?

    No, the hymen cannot grow back once it has been stretched open. The hymen is a thin, fleshy tissue that stretches across part of the opening of the vagina. The hymen can be stretched open the first time a girl has vaginal intercourse.

    Some people believe that a woman whose hymen has been stretched open is no longer a virgin. But having a hymen and being a virgin are not the same thing. There are other ways that a woman can stretch her hymen, including using tampons, insertive masturbation, riding a bicycle, or doing gymnastics.

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    Will it hurt the first time I have sex?

    Some women experience pain the first time they have vaginal intercourse. They may have so much hymenal tissue  that stretching it open during first intercourse may cause pain and bleeding. Women with a lot of hymenal tissue can prepare for first intercourse by slowly stretching the tissue with their fingers.

    Guys do not have hymens, so this is not an issue. Sex should not be painful for them unless something is wrong. For guys, pain during sex can be caused by an infection, an allergic reaction to spermicide or latex, by a physical condition such as having a foreskin that is too tight, or by an irritation from previous sexual or non-sexual activities. If a guy is experiencing pain during sex, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a clinician to check it out.

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    Does wearing a tampon mean Iíve lost my virginity?

    No. Most people agree that using tampons does not cause a woman to lose her virginity. For most people, today, losing virginity is about sex, not about personal hygiene. Tampons may stretch the hymen a little bit, but they don't usually stretch it open all the way. Nevertheless, in some cultures, where the hymen defines virginity, virgins are not allowed to use tampons.

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    Is there a normal age for me to lose my virginity?

    There's no such thing as a "normal" age for becoming sexually active. Deciding whether to have sex is a highly personal decision. It can be influenced by a variety of factors, which may include religious, spiritual, and moral beliefs; family and personal values; personal desire; peer influence; and/or your relationship with a potential sex partner. It's important to think about where you stand on the issue. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide:

    • Do we both believe or not believe that sex should only be shared in a marriage or other committed relationship?
    • Do we both believe or not believe that two people should be in love before having sex?
    • Do we both believe or not believe that a person should be a certain age before having sex?
    • Are we both prepared to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection?
    • Are we both prepared to deal with the consequences if pregnancy or infection occurs?
    • Are we both prepared for our relationship to change?

    There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Sexual decisions are a matter of personal beliefs and values, but it's important to think them through before you take the plunge. And things might go better if both partners agree about what it is they are doing and what it means to them.

    Talking about your views on sex with your partner is always a good idea. And sometimes it's helpful to talk things through with a parent, a friend, a professional counselor, or someone else who cares about you and what will be good for you.

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    Can you get pregnant when you lose your virginity?

    Yes, if you're having unprotected vaginal intercourse you can get pregnant ó whether it is the first time or the one hundred and first time. That's why most people use birth control the first time they have vaginal sex.



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