Plus, the virginity myth debunked
Inquisitive minds who Google the word “virginity” are likely to stumble across related searches like “meaning of virginity,” “virginity is a social construct” and “virginity is important.” Wedged between these telling queries are sillier searches like “virginity meme” and the apparent hunt for a very specific t-shirt with “virginity rocks” on it.
For a no-touch subject in many of today’s traditional venues––we’re talking schools, churches, and conservative households––virginity sure makes one hell of a hot topic. On top of everything, it almost always boils down to the maintain-it-or-lose-it debate. For those musing on losing it, it primarily becomes a matter of when.
Of course in a perfect world, there would be no debate; a person’s virginity is decidedly saved for marriage, point-blank. They would wait for the one, marry the one and only then, make love to the one…for the rest of their lives. But it’s in clinging to this obsession with the perfect world scenario where society falls short in the dialogue about having sex for the first time.
Surveys show that the primary source adolescents turn to today for sex-related queries are their friends. In the ranking, parents who take the initiative to sit their kids down to talk about the birds and the bees also prove to be effective influences. Still, there is no way that parents come before the internet when it comes to matters of the V-card and sexual health. Unsurprisingly, the web is now the teenager’s second most turned to source for sex ed in the real world. Porn comes in at #3. Just imagine entrusting the vast World Wide Web––and pornography––to fill impressionable young minds with things vital to their sexual health and their perceptions of it (and it’s the muddle we’re in right now, though.)
So, let’s get real: if you are a virgin and are contemplating losing your virginity (considering, too, that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner), there is no need to flinch, deny or feel guilty. Thinking it over is allowed. Even planning it is allowed. It’s in talks about the when and the how (do you know) where lines begin to blur. Things here can get tricky, but here’s to setting the cherry-poppin’ details straight:
There is no one definition for the ever-loaded V-word.
To lose it means defloration, but what exactly are you standing to lose? As Philippine law would have it, virginity is “the condition of a female who has not experienced sexual intercourse and whose genital organs have not been altered by carnal connection.”
In the most anatomically-oriented sense, there’s a fixation that happens on this thing called the hymen. For a lowly and “thin fold of mucus membrane at the external orifice of the vagina,” there certainly is a lot of hoopla surrounding it: there’s the well-known myth that sexual intercourse is the only activity capable of breaking it, that tearing it during the deed hurts or that you will have to bleed. But it is worth noting that not all first sexual encounters are the same.
Not all women have the same amount of hymenal tissue present in their vaginas and the elasticity of each differs, too. Some do not experience bleeding at all. Others do notice it on their trip to the bathroom after having sex for the first time––not only do they notice blood, but it is highly possible that it burns when they urinate. All these instances are completely normal. As far as the burning sensation goes, any stinging that worsens over a seven-day period points to a consult with a doctor. That goes without question, ladies.
Regina George was right about being a half-virgin…
This brings us back to the definitions of virginity and three lesser-known specifics: moral virginity, demi-virginity, and physical virginity. The first, moral virginity, refers to the state of not knowing the nature of sexual life. This can be attributed to a person’s (again, usually female) lack of a sexual relationship and applies to children below the age of puberty, whose sex organs are not yet developed. Then there’s demi-virginity, the condition of a woman who “permits any form of sexual liberties as long as they abstain from rupturing the hymen by taking part in a sexual act.” Lastly, there’s the state of physical virginity. This references a woman who is conscious of the nature of sexual life but has not experienced sexual intercourse.
Your age does not necessarily dictate when you’re ready.
The age of consent varies from country to country. Some are outrageous (our country’s included, unfortunately) and some are sound. In Portugal, for example, a person can legally consent to sex at 21 years old. In most South American countries, the age is 18. In most Asian countries, namely Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mongolia and Brunei, the age is 16. It’s baffling that the age of consent in the Philippines is 12, but that’s an issue for another time.
Flat out, this does not mean ignoring the law. But it doesn’t mean relying on the mandated age of readiness. It is possible to be 18 and feel nowhere near ready to lose your virginity. A person can be in their early 20’s or 30’s and feel it isn’t time yet. This echoes the sentiment that “her body, her rules.” In the same vein, her rules, her timelines, her call when she’s ready.
Write them down if you have to: these are the questions to ask yourself.
Why do you want to have sex in the first place? You can bet that the answers to this seemingly no-brainer question vary quite a bit (and people get pretty creative). If it’s to impress whoever you’re dating, to appear mature or in-command enough, to get your partner to take you seriously, to keep up with a group of friends or to get it over with simply because everyone else is doing it, stop to reassess. Any reason that alludes to peer pressure––even the slightest bit––is not a valid reason.
Other bases to cover with your partner include: do you love each other? (The other no-brainer.) Another thing to ask yourself is: do you feel safe with your partner? Safe enough that, should you decide to say “no,” backing out will not be taken against you? Consider it a gleaming red flag if your partner takes that “no” as a sign to try and convince you.
Contraception and safe sex should always be part of the equation if you want to change your V-card status.
If talks about contraception or safe sex make your partner uncomfortable, consider this a wakeup call. Anybody looking to lose their virginity should have a viable form of contraception in mind and at the ready. This person––no, this couple––must be well-versed on the practical options to choose from, too.
Condoms are the most convenient to get a hold of: they’re affordable, readily available at most drugstores and supermarkets and are non-invasive. On to women looking for a more guided take on contraception: the way to go is to consult with a licensed obstetrician-gynecologist (or OB-GYN). This way a physician can help with making an informed decision and perhaps put other forms of contraception on the table such as the pill and the contraceptive injection. This setup, while predictably more expensive, is ideal since this allows you to take a peek at what else is under the hood and ensures your reproductive system is in tip-top shape. It also never hurts to ask your partner if he or she has been tested for any STDs because you have the right to know.
So, when will you know when you’re ready? Well, that’s a question only for you to answer…when you’re ready.
Art Alexandra Lara