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Sex topics: Virginity and beyond

In some cultures, sex before marriage is not acceptable for a woman. What would happen if you wanted to have sex? Is there any way a future husband would know that you weren't a virgin?

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If you don't know about the anatomy of the vagina, or you don't know what a woman's hymen is, have a look at  our page on female sexual anatomy before reading on. In brief, the presence or absence of a hymen is supposed to be one way you can tell if a woman has had sexual intercourse. Also, some people believe a tighter vagina is a sign of a virgin....but neither of these statements is necessarily true. Read on to find out why.


The hymen is a thin membrane in young women which protects the entrance to the rest of the vagina. This membrane is always open to some extent  to let fluids pass through. Traditionally, as long as this membrane was in place, a woman was considered to be a virgin. During her first intercourse the hymen was assumed to break and result in some bleeding or small discomfort. The blood lost on this occasion was also taken as 'proof' that she was still a virgin.


If you are female, have a look at the photos on our page on women's sexual anatomy. You could then examine yourself with a mirror and a strong light. See for yourself whether the hymen is still in place and if it is, see how much of it is left. in theory, one way for a potential future husband to get "proof" of your virginity is to send you to a medical doctor for examination prior to your wedding night. Otherwise, he has only got your word to go on.


However, things get more complicated: The hymen is a very delicate structure and often breaks in adolescents during sport or other activities. It may also have broken if you are using tampons or you have been for a gynecological examination at some point. You may not have noticed anything at all when it broke, or you might have spotted a little bit of bleeding in your underwear at a time outside normal menstruation or before you started to menstruate. In any woman in her twenties the hymen may very well have broken naturally at some point.


This is now where the medical issue ends and the human factor begins. In the end it comes down to trust: does your future husband trust your word or not? Would he want to trust you or would he have his own reasons not to, such as being unhappy about the marriage altogether or feeling very insecure in himself? Only if a doctor finds that your hymen is still in place will he be sure you are a virgin - but, as we said before, your hymen may have broken naturally. He may then not believe that you are a virgin, when actually you are and you have no way of proving it.


It works the other way round too: you could have sex now and be certain you won't tell anybody and that your current boyfriend won't tell anybody else either. The hymen has already broken or may break during intercourse. If your future husband asks why it hasn't broken with him later on you could say, for example, a doctor told you it probably broke when you were sixteen years old when you were cycling and you bled a little. It all comes down to trust.


So, it depends: medically speaking, there is no certain way of telling if a woman is a virgin. It's more likely that you'll get caught out in the act or that you or your boyfriend unwittingly disclose  that you've had sex at some point, than it is that your future husband will find out in any other way. Also, please consider whether you could still trust your current boyfriend not to tell what you have done if you fall out badly in the future. Can you really trust him to keep the secret safe, even though he might have every reason to try and prevent your marriage to another man?


In the end the question is: how big a risk do you want to take? How important might it be for your family or your future husband's family if you weren't a virgin anymore? Can you trust your current boyfriend to keep the secret? How likely is it going to be that you and your boyfriend will eventually marry?


There are two other important points to consider: two things could happen, which are both not good and which would give away that you had sex:


1 You happen to catch a sexually transmitted disease from your boyfriend. Please read our pages on sexually transmitted diseases and on safer sex and use a condom to protect yourself.


2 You might get pregnant. Of course there would then be no doubt that you had sex with somebody. If you are choosing to have intercourse you must use contraception. Please read our page on fertility so you know which days will be problematic. Again, a condom may be the easiest way to provide for contraception as your boyfriend can buy condoms over the counter and you do not have to go to a medical doctor for a prescription. Please make sure he buys original, good quality condoms. Practice with the condom before the actual day and make sure he follows all the instructions carefully so the condom does not break or come off his penis. You can read more on how to use condoms on our safer sex page.


If you do decide against genital intercourse, consider mutual masturbation or oral sex with your boyfriend. These sexual practices can be very satisfying and exciting, and circumvent the whole issue of virginity. You can then wholeheartedly say you are a virgin, i.e. you have never had genital intercourse before, but you can also be sexual now. If you opt for mutual masturbation be sure that when he ejaculates he does not introduce any semen on the outside of your vagina as you could still get pregnant. If you try oral sex still read the page on sexually transmitted diseases.


Written by Anna 24.10.07

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