Myths About Virginity Loss, Debunked.
Sex education

Myths About Virginity Loss, Debunked.

Published
Oct 11, 2022
Author
Eliza Dumais

From painful penetration to “popping your cherry.” 

The very notion of “virginity” comes shrouded in so much myth, it may as well be folklore. Before the dawn of the World Wide Web, much of what we knew about *deflowering* was passed around in whispers. It came from someone’s older sister, who heard it from her mom, who heard it from her mom. Perhaps it was corroborated, briefly, by a stiff, uncomfortable gym teacher in a mandatory health class. 

Even now, however, in the age of TikTok and Uber helicopters, the notion of virginity still feels taboo. The very language surrounding a “loss” already hints at something forboding and dramatic. First-time sex should not be shamed or admonished—that’s why we’re looking to dismantle a few of the dominant virginity myths that still seem to be circulating in the school yard. 

Losing your virginity requires “popping your cherry”

The good ‘ol cherry-ism has been haunting young girls since the dawn of time—but the truth is, breaking your hymen is nothing like a “popping,” and it doesn’t necessarily have anything at all to do with your virginity status. The loose notion of cherry-popping has always implied that some membrane covers the vagina like a lid, and when it’s penetrated for the first time, it ruptures. The reality is, however, that the hymen is actually a thin fleshy membrane covering the vaginal opening with a small hole in the center. When subject to external pressure—not necessarily a penis—it stretches. Which is to say, you can’t “pop” your hymen so much as stretch it out—and in no way does the state of your hymen indicate whether or not your “virginity” is intact. 

This also means that no, you cannot “pop your own cherry” while riding a horse or a bike. 

It’s not sex unless both partners reach orgasm 

Most cinematic sex would have you believe that all intercourse results in echoing simultaneous orgasm from both parties. The truth is, anyone who regularly experiences this phenomenon—or has ever experienced this phenomenon—is very much an outlier. If we’re discussing penetrative sex—which is not the only variety of sex, by the way—it can still be deeply pleasurable and intimate, even if neither party reaches climax. 

Sex requires a penis and a vagina

Conceptualizing sex as purely penis-in-vagina intercourse is an absolute denial of the many ways that folks experience sexual intercourse. There’s anal sex, oral sex, hand sex, even outer sex (often known colloquially as “dry humping”)—and choosing which definition to align with is entirely in the eyes of the beholder. The point is: Having opted out of penetrative intercourse with members of the opposite biological sex (or the same one!) does not label you an eternal virgin—unless you’d prefer it that way. 

As a woman, your first time will be bloody and painful

While bleeding is certainly possible when you engage in penetrative sex for the first time, it’s also possible on your 40th sexual encounter. Every vagina is different—and contrary to popular belief, most women do not bleed their first time. Instead, bleeding during sex often comes from minor ruptures that may develop in the vaginal corona when you’re dry or unlibricated, which can occasionally result in blood. Bleeding, however—or a lack-there-of—has absolutely nothing to do with the quantity of times you’ve had sex. 

As for the pain, many women experience discomfort during sex anytime they partake in intercourse when unaroused (and thus, unlubricated). It’s by no means rare for first-time sex to be painless—but the notion comes from the fact that, in the moment, plenty of folks are more nervous than they are turned on. 

You should be in love to lose your virginity (and/or you’ll never forget your first)

No shade to folks who have lost their virginities to a great love—or to the folks choosing to wait for one in order to do so—but the notion that virginity loss must be tied to undying affection and romance tends to put undue pressure on the act. Sex can be pleasurable in any number of scenarios with any number of partners—and at the same time, it can be thoroughly lackluster with a partner you’re madly in love with. Blowing one’s “first time” up to mythic proportions can spawn plenty of anxiety about who—and less concern for pleasure and safety. 

And while so much romantic YA fiction perpetuates the notion that you’ll feel viscerally hormonally attached to the person who “takes your virginity”—and will remain as such until the end of time—there’s no science to suggest that your first sexual partner will elicit a hormonal reaction any different from any other sexual partner. We have no reason to believe that we’ll be haunted by the memory of our first sexual encounter—and often, our dissemination of this very myth works as a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Myths About Virginity Loss, Debunked.

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