You want some really good information about hymens and virginity? The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education provides it. It’s definitely a better source than some embarrassingly bad 1980s movie romp about eager teenagers trying to lose their virginity, that’s for sure.
Virginity – what does it mean?
Discussion of virginity revolves around whether a person has ever had sex. In most people’s minds, the main question is whether or not someone has had vaginal intercourse.
Virginity is a vague concept based on perceptions and myths, chiefly concerning female sexuality, that RFSU (or Scarleteen!) would not wish to endorse. For one thing, virginity is often associated with a heteronormative view of sex restricted to vaginal intercourse between man and woman (in other words, insertion of the penis into the vagina). For another, in many languages and cultures, virginity is synonymous with innocence, the opposite of which is guilt. There is no guilt involved in having sex, and no need to feel guilty about it. What’s more, such myths are used against women in particular; for instance as an excuse for spreading rumors and committing sexual assaults.
We sometimes receive questions about how to know whether or not you are a “virgin.” You are the only person who can decide that. Different people have different ideas about which sexual acts constitute a “loss of virginity.” Some people restrict it to vaginal intercourse, while others count other activities as well.
Is it possible to see or feel whether a woman has ever had sex?
No. Looking at a penis or a 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 (unless you have become pregnant or contracted a sexually transmitted infection). No one else can detect whether you’ve had sex.
Good to know. Unfortunately, now I’m torn between “Ha ha, you can’t tell if I’ve lost my virginity” and “Why the fuck should anyone care?”
When a female fetus is growing during pregnancy, her internal reproductive organs and her vagina develop separately from her external reproductive organs (the labia and so forth). The vagina starts out as a solid cord that runs from the body wall to the uterus. Between the fifth and seventh months of gestation, that cord slowly hollows out and turns into a tube. But it still doesn’t have an opening to the outside of the body — it ends at the body wall. Finally the body wall starts to disintegrate at the point where the vagina meets it and an opening forms in the body wall, and becomes the orifice (outlet or opening) of the vagina.
What the hymen is is whatever remains of that body wall cling to the inside of the opening of the vagina after the opening forms. It is the “leftovers” of the sheet of flesh that used to separate the internal genitals from the external ones before the vagina had an opening. The opening(s) in the center of the hymen are the entrance to the vagina.
I like to think of the hymen as a door frame mounted in a doorway that stands on the spot where “external” stops and “internal” starts. You can’t go in or out of that doorway without passing through the door frame. The hymen is exactly the same. It is part of the entrance to the vagina. Nothing can enter or exit the vagina without going through it.
Developmental byproduct theory for the win.