Q: I am a male and I had sexual intercourse with my girlfriend but it seems that I have not lost my virginity. Can this happen? I am very tense right now. I have never heard of such a thing before.
A: I appreciate your willingness to explore more about what it means to become sexually active or to lose one’s virginity. These concepts can have varying definitions and are associated with societal and cultural meanings. For some people, having sexual intercourse for the first time can be frightening and anxiety-provoking. Don’t worry, you are not alone.
Scientists Ask …
Findings from studies of college students, their definition of virginity and what sexual behaviors constitute “having sex” are fairly consistent. For example, a 1999 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 99.7% of respondents defined vaginal intercourse sex as “having sex”. This is consistent with a 2017 study where the majority of university students agreed that penile-vaginal and penile-anal intercourse constituted “having sex.” Additionally, within these samples, whether a person had an orgasm during a sexual encounter impacted their definition of sex.
Not only is your definition of virginity important, so is the source of what is making you feel tense. Often people have unrealistic expectations associated with sex, whether it be based on performance or the anticipation that having sex will change their lives. For others, a fear of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or having an unintended pregnancy can cause anxiety. What you anticipated going into the sexual encounter and examining what actually happened and how you feel about these things is important and can alleviate some of your anxiety.
And You Should Ask …
Finally, how you and your partner define virginity and its meaning may be important to share with one another. It’s not clear why you feel you are still a virgin if you had sex, or what that means to you. If what you mean is that you are still feeling sexual tension or arousal even after having sex, then you could look to masturbation or exercise to help you feel relaxed. If you are referring to general anxiety about sex (or more broadly about life), then making an appointment with a sexuality counselor or therapist might be helpful. You can find an AASECT-certified therapist through www.aasect.org.