Virginity at a glance:
- A virgin is someone who has never had sex — but people define "sex" differently.
- Don't stress about what other people do or say — wait to have sex until YOU are ready.
- The average age that people have sex for the first time is 17.
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What does it mean to be a virgin?
A virgin is someone who has never had sex. But "sex" is defined differently by different people. A lot of people think that women and men lose their virginity the first time they have penis-in-vagina intercourse (vaginal sex). But this definition is really limited because it leaves lots of people and other types of sex out of the picture.
Some people who haven't had vaginal sex don't think of themselves as virgins because they've had other kinds of sex, like oral or anal sex. And then there are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people who may never have vaginal (penis-in-vagina) sex, but don't think of themselves as virgins. Others believe that it depends on consent (consent means wanting and agreeing to have sex). So being forced to have sex, for example, isn't losing your virginity.
So the definition of virginity is complicated. Some people don't even care about it. Figuring out if you count as a virgin or not is much less important than how you feel about your sexual experiences. Are you happy with the sexual experiences you've had or decided not to have? What can you do in the future to make sure the sexual decisions you make will keep you safe and happy?
When do most people start having sex?
First of all, don't worry too much about what other people do. Deciding to have sex for the first time is an important and personal decision. People think about lots of different things, like religious, spiritual, and moral beliefs; family and personal values; desire; friends' opinions; love; and/or relationships. Whatever drives your decision, it's important to wait until you're sure you're ready to have sex.
The average age when people have sex for the first time is 17.Some people choose to never have sex. Only about half of high school students have ever had vaginal sex, and most of the ones that have are seniors. Even once they start having sex, most teens don't have sex very often. And lots of teens who've had sex say they wish they had waited. If you started having sex and want to stop, that's totally okay — just because you've had sex before doesn't mean you have to do it again. People can be abstinent at any time, for any reason.
What’s a hymen?
Funny word, right? 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 sex, which might cause some pain or bleeding. And despite what you may have heard, the hymen cannot grow back once it's been stretched open.
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 hymen can be stretched open, by inserting something into the vagina (like a tampon or a finger) riding a bicycle, or doing sports. And some girls are born with so little hymenal tissue that it seems like it was never there.
Will it hurt the first time I have sex?
Some women have pain and bleeding the first time they have vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina) or fingers inserted into their vaginas. This happens because some people naturally have more of a hymen than others. If it doesn't get better after the first time, women can slowly stretch the tissue with their fingers over time to make it less painful. In rare cases, a doctor may have to open a woman's hymen. If you're worried about your hymen or have pain during sex, talk with your doctor.
Vaginal sex shouldn't be painful for guys unless there's too much friction (which you can fix by using lubrication), or if something is wrong. If a guy is experiencing pain during sex, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider to check it out.
Is it possible for a penis to not fit into a vagina?
It's possible, but not common. Although it's true that rarely some penises won't fit comfortably into some vaginas, the vagina can stretch a lot. Most women's vaginas are between three and seven inches long. This usually depends on a woman's overall height and body size. However, the vagina can stretch much longer and wider during vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina) and childbirth.
Some women might have discomfort during vaginal sex if the penis goes very deep and touches her cervix or certain parts of her vagina. This is normal, and can usually be solved by trying different positions, going slower, or asking your partner to not put his penis in as deep.
Can you get pregnant when you lose your virginity?
YES! Whenever semen or pre-cum gets on the vulva or in the vagina, you can get pregnant — whether it's the first time or the hundredth time. That's why lots of people use both birth control and condoms when they have sex.