October 5, 2009

Q&A: Can I Get My Virginity Back?

Dr. Debby Herbenick answers a young female reader's questions about virginity, specifically if it is possible to "get her virginity back" after having had sex.

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Question: I am 18 years old and recently had sex with my boyfriend for the first time. When I did, I bled from my vagina. Am I still a virgin? How can I know without going to the doctor? And if I’m not a virgin anymore, how can I get my virginity back?

Defining Virginity

People define virginity in different ways. However, one of the most common definitions of virginity for heterosexual women is whether they have had penile-vaginal sex.

If you recently had vaginal intercourse for the first time, with your boyfriend putting his penis inside of your vagina, then most people would probably consider that to be losing your virginity. So no, by most people’s definitions you would no longer be a virgin and there is no way to reverse that.

Losing one’s virginity is a physical act, whether or not a woman notices any blood from her vagina. The reason why some women bleed when they first have sex is because a thin layer of tissue called the hymen covers part of a woman’s vaginal entrance.

When a woman has sex, the hymen tears and she may bleed a little bit. However, some women don’t have very much of this tissue to begin with or else the tissue they did have may have torn for other reasons such as from using tampons, from masturbation or from being fingered by a partner.

This is why looking for blood on the sheets, or even going to the doctor, is not helpful in terms of establishing whether or not a woman is a virgin.

“Born Again Virgins”

Even though you can’t reverse time to before you had sex, you may be interested to know that some people consider themselves to be “born again virgins” if they have had sex before but now are choosing to wait to have sex again until they feel more ready, more in love or are married.

If you are having second thoughts about being sexually active, it’s important to know that just because you have had sex once does not mean that you have to do it again any time soon if you are not ready to or if you don’t want to.

Sex is a very intimate act for many women and men. Some people connect sex with love, intimacy or relationships and may feel as though they want a certain relationship with another person before they have sex.

Other times, people may have found a wonderful romantic partner but may want to wait to have sex until they feel as though they have more effective reliable birth control or until they feel comfortable with the possibility of becoming parents, should they possibly become pregnant.

Learn More

To learn more about sex, check out S.E.X.: The All You Need to Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College.