Virginity is not something you “lose.” Nothing pops, becomes broken or is changed for life (we know, shocking). Virginity is actually a social construct, meaning that it is an idea created by society. Moreover, it has long been used to control vulva owners’ bodies.
What is the hymen?
The hymen is not some “virgin” seal that remains intact until it is broken during vaginal penetration! The hymen is a thin stretchy membrane of tissue that is set just inside the vaginal entrance. It varies a lot in size, shape, thickness and elasticity. Typically, the hymen has a doughnut or half moon shape with a large central hole. However, depending on the individual, the hymen may have fringes, several holes or consist of lobes. Some people aren’t even born with a hymen! Each hymen will naturally change over time, no matter what your sex life looks like.
Can you tell if someone is a “virgin”?
Since hymens come in many forms, it’s impossible to know based on appearance if someone has had “sex”. It is not an indicator of sexual activity. In one study where doctors examined the hymens of 37 pregnant teenagers, they could only find clear signs of penetration in 2 (1). This is why virginity checks or tests are not only absurd but in many cases, can be downright dangerous. The only way to know if someone has had penetrative sex is to ask them!
Kellogg ND, Menard SW, Santos A. Genital anatomy in pregnant adolescents: “normal” does not mean “nothing happened”. Pediatrics. 2004;113(1 Pt 1):e67-9.