Hymen and virginity
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FAQs Hymen and Virginity

Frequently asked questions about virginity and the hymen. No need to guess any more, we've got all the right info.

Can you see if a girl is a virgin?

No, in most cases, a doctor can’t tell. In rare cases, a doctor can tell in a girl with a thick hymen or one that covers her vaginal opening.

 

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Can the hymen tear through doing sports or using tampons?

Sports or using tampons can stretch or tear a hymen, but it all depends on the shape, size and thickness of your hymen.

Does the first time always hurt?

No. If a girl is relaxed and sexually aroused, it doesn’t hurt. If you’re very tense, the vagina can stay dry or tighten up. This increases the chance of the hymen tearing and intercourse being painful. The first time you’re often exited or nervous, so this can easily happen. But if you both take your time, it doesn’t hurt.

What is virginity?

Everyone agrees that whether you’re a boy or a girl, if you’ve never had sex, you’re a virgin. For girls, though, a lot of people believe that whether you’re a virgin or not depends on whether or not your hymen is intact. But the hymen can be torn or stretched in lots of ways without having any kind of sex. It’s not true that you can tell from a girl’s hymen whether she has had sex.

How do you lose your virginity?

People have different ideas about what kind of sex you need to have to lose your virginity. Is it only intercourse, with a penis in the vagina? Or does anal intercourse count? And what about oral sex?

Different people have different opinions, and it depends a lot on culture and religion. But everyone agrees that if you masturbate it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your virginity. And it’s a good way to explore your body and find out what feels good to you.

Ways of having sex: do you lose your virginity?

  • Masturbating (on your own): no
  • Kissing, stroking, feeling, caressing: no
  • Oral sex (stimulating the penis or vulva with your mouth): opinions vary depending on culture and tradition, or from one person to another
  • Anal intercourse (penis in the anus): opinions vary depending on culture and tradition, or from one person to another
  • Vaginal intercourse (penis in the vagina): yes

Do all girls or young women bleed when they first have sex?

No. Research has shown that a lot of girls don’t bleed the first time. For one thing, your hymen might have been stretched by using tampons or doing sport like horse riding. You might have a very thin or stretchy hymen, or have been born without a hymen at all

Whether you bleed or not says nothing about whether or not you’re a virgin.

 

What's more you don’t have to have sex to stretch or tear your hymen. It can happen through inserting a tampon, horse riding, cycling or stretching

If you take your time making love, so you’re relaxed and your vagina is moist, and your partner goes gently, you’re less likely to bleed. On the other hand, if your hymen is thick and not very stretchy, you might also bleed the second or third time you have sex. It doesn’t make you a super-virgin!

In some families it’s the custom for a girl to show a sheet with bloodstains after her wedding night. This is supposed to be proof that she was a virgin. They think if she can’t show any blood, she must have had intercourse with a boy before. But this isn’t true.

How can I make sure I bleed the first time?

Some girls particularly want to bleed on their wedding night. It might be to show a traditional bloodstained sheet to the family. They might want to convince their new husband they’re still a virgin, when in fact they aren’t. Or they might still be a virgin, but be worried their husband will have doubts about their virginity if they don’t bleed.

For all these reasons, girls look for ways to make sure they bleed on their wedding night. There are lots of tricks, ranging from pricking or cutting your finger and dripping some blood on the sheet, to using an ‘artificial hymen’. Some girls also opt to have an operation to have their hymen ‘restored’.

If you use one of these tricks, remember you’re helping to keep alive the myth that virgins always bleed the first time they have sex!

How can I have my hymen restored?

The term ‘restoration’ isn’t really right, because nothing is restored, but a new imitation hymen is made. There are two different types of hymen restoration operations:

  • A 'new hymen' is made by using your own vaginal lining to create a covering over the vagina opening. During sex, it tears and you bleed.The outer labia are sewn together to make a ‘new hymen’. This is called infibulation, and in many countries it’s illegal because it prevents the passage of menstrual blood.
     
  • Both operations aim to make the entrance to the vagina tighter so you bleed when the penis goes into the vagina. That is, if everything goes to plan, because there’s no guarantee it will work!

How can I prove I'm a virgin?

You can't really. A doctor can hardly ever tell for sure whether or not a girl has had a penis in her vagina. But sometimes, for one reason or another, a girl’s prospective in-laws doubt whether she’s a virgin, and the doctor doesn’t mind saving her a lot of trouble by giving her a ‘virginity certificate’!

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