Virginity and sex can mean different things to different people. Virginity does not have to be a sacred symbol (unless you want it to be), and losing it can be a wonderful experience so long as you are emotionally and physically ready. To know if you’re ready to have sex for the first time, it’s important to first get educated on the basics, like what is virginity anyway?
“Virginity” refers to someone who hasn’t had sexual intercourse before. It’s kind of an old-fashioned term since we know that sex is more than intercourse and having sex for the first time can mean different things to different people.
The average age to lose your virginity is around 17.5. Remember, that’s an average though, for some people it’s younger and for some it’s older.
No, you can’t lose your virginity to a tampon. You can use a tampon regardless of whether you’ve had sex before or not. And using a tampon won’t damage the vagina. In rare cases, the hymen may tear from a tampon, but that will not affect virginity. It’s up to you to decide what virginity means to you (and if it’s a term you even want to use), and if it holds value for you. Typically, however, virginity is about your first partnered sex experience.
It’s up to you to decide if you feel like you’ve “lost your virginity”. There’s no such thing as a medical test to check virginity, and sex is not limited to intercourse — it all depends on how you feel. Do you feel like you “had sex”? Do you feel like you shared sexual activities and connection with another person? It’s your call.
If you are having partnered sex for the first time you may feel nervous and/or excited, you may feel aroused, and you may feel some pain, but hopefully also pleasure. Precisely which sexual activities you try is up to you: hand sex, oral sex, penetrative sex.
Masturbation is a great way to enjoy sexual pleasure by yourself, to discover your body and what feels good sexually. This solo-play can certainly involve penetration with fingers or a sex toy if that’s a sensation you’d like to experience. Whether you consider “losing your virginity” to mean receiving penetration, having partnered sex for the first time, or specifically to mean intercourse is up to you.
Having sex for the first time can feel anywhere from “awesome!” to “just ok” to “not enjoyable”. Beforehand, you may feel excited and/or a bit nervous. During the experience you may feel arousal, sexual pleasure, some pain, and you may orgasm. Afterwards, you may feel good about it or not so good about it. First time sex is different for everyone.
Sex can hurt the first time, though this is not everyone’s experience. If you are receiving penetration, taking these steps can help alleviate potential pain:
- Spend time kissing and caressing to build up arousal.
- Try penetration with something smaller, like one or two fingers, before moving to something bigger, like a penis or toy.
- Communicate what you need to feel relaxed and comfortable.
- Use lube.
First time sex looks different depending on you, who you’re with, and what sexual activities you want to try. It may involve hand sex, oral sex, or penetrative sex.
Tips when it’s your first time:
- Practice consent by checking in with yourself and partner before, during, and after sex. Remember, consent can be withdrawn at any time.
- Communicate about what you’d like to try and your boundaries.
- Consider birth control if the type of sex you’re having could lead to pregnancy.
- Have condoms or other barriers on hand and know how to use them.
- If you’re having penetrative sex, work up to it with oral or hand sex.
- If you’re having penetrative sex, use lube to make penetration easier.
- Experiment with speed, pressures, and positions and communicate throughout about what’s working and what isn’t.
- Have fun!
It is common to bleed after you have vaginal sex for the first time. Bleeding may occur from the hymen tissue tearing. If bleeding is heavy, goes on for a long time, or is painful, see a health care provider. Note that the hymen can also break from many other physical activities. That’s why it’s totally possible to not bleed at all when losing your virginity. The hymen, or bleeding, is no indication of whether or not you’ve had sex.
So long as you are of an age of consent, only you can determine if and when you want to lose your virginity. Simply understanding what virginity and sex means to you can make the experience all the more comfortable. If you decide you’re ready to take the next step with a partner, just be sure to communicate your needs before, during, and after any sexual activity.