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MAMTA Health Institute for Mother & Child | New Delhi

What is virginity?

Whether a person – male or female – has ever had sex or not is the main topic of discussion around virginity. Virginity is a vague concept based on perceptions and myths. Virginity is often associated with a heteronormative view of sex restricted to penetrative intercourse between man and woman (in other words insertion of penis into vagina). Different people have different ideas about which sexual acts constitute a “loss of virginity”. Some people restrict it to vaginal intercourse whereas others count other activities as well.

The vaginal corona/ hymen has usually been associated with virginity of female; i.e. its presence is taken as a proof of virginity and its absence as evidence of coitus. Evidence of virginity is usually considered to be an intact hymen, which means that there may be tightness and bleeding on first intercourse. However, it is just a myth and the vast majority of women don’t bleed. No matter what their vaginal corona looks like, fewer than half of all women bleed when they penetrate their vagina for the first time. Of those who do bleed, few do so because the corona was tight; instead, there are other reasons. If you were not sexually aroused, but rather tense, nervous and too dry, minor ruptures may develop in vaginal corona and may bleed. But this has nothing to do with how many times you’ve had sex.

Looking at a man’s penis and a woman’s vagina, it’s equally impossible to tell whether that person has ever had sex. Neither a gynecologist nor a sex partner can tell whether you’ve had vaginal, oral, anal or manual sex. No one else can detect whether you’ve had sex.

In case of a victim of a sexual assault the doctor cannot tell by looking at the vaginal corona whether it has been penetrated or not by the medical examination. But, the doctor looks for the traces of the attacker. Hence, it is important that you do not wash yourself. This will allow the doctor to collect sample and record injuries, which can be used as evidence in court. Equally important is the need to talk to someone and get counseling and support to help the victim deal with what has happened.

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