A Question about Virginity

Dr. Carol Queen, Ph.D answers a question from our Social Networks.

Question: (A comment on our YouTube.com Channel)


First of all, I want to thank you for your great channel and your awesome videos . Please keep them up and I’ll always be waiting for your new videos 🙂 .

Secondly, I need a help and I really appreciate it if you could help me in that . I wanted to know how to know if my gf is a virgin unless the blood ? . Because I heard once that some girls don’t bleed inspite of being virgins . Could it be by seeing or …. !? . I’ll be so grateful if you helped .

Thanks alot

OK, this answer is for all you over-18 virgins and partners, because you under-18ers are not even reading this, and if you are, you should quickly change channels to Scarleteen. And soon, when you can vote, please pressure your elected representatives for better sex education. (Plus under-18ers are not allowed to do anything legally except be virgins. Remember?)

Virginity in this context, I believe, refers to penis-vagina intercourse, although there are a zillion ways to be virgins if you don’t take that as the definition–you’re a virgin, colloquially at least, around anything you’ve never done before. I’m a bungee-jumping virgin! This allows all of us to lose our virginities over and over, if we want. And since so many of us really need a do-over, this is fortunate.

Not all women bleed upon first intercourse, for a variety of reasons. In a culture where even young women have access to tampons, the hymen may have been stretched by using them; some kinds of exercise (including but not limited to masturbation) may have stretched a woman’s hymen enough so that it doesn’t cover the vaginal opening; and some females didn’t have much hymen tissue to begin with. So not every virgin bleeds, in spite of all the expectation that this is the Virginity Signal. Nor can you take a look at her hymen and know for sure. In truth, there is no such signal that will give you the unqualified information that a woman has never experienced vaginal penetration by something, much less by a penis.

About the only two things you can do are to trust what your partner says, and not care too much about whether it’s true. It might be a good idea to start with the second approach, since pressure from partners (or social systems) that find virginity to be super-important can give women a reason not to be truthful about this question. Indeed, in some contexts, a woman who admits she’s not a virgin faces rejection, humiliation, and even violence, and anyone participating in such a system has already given her a reason to hide any experience she might have. Whereas anyone saying “I love/desire you for you, and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done before we got together” has actually made it a lot easier and safer for her to be honest.

Speaking for all the ex-virgins (they didn’t elect me to do that, I’m just seizing this opportunity), many women find first intercourse to be a pretty intense, sometimes scary, sometimes painful situation, and one element of this can be the pressure to prove you’re a virgin even when you are. And while many young (as well as older) women find they love having intercourse, sometimes the first experience is not so great or is even terrible, and a woman who’s experienced it might really wish she really were still a virgin. Hearing judgment or pressure about whether she is will not make it any easier for her in either case, I can assure you. So I don’t suggest you might want to focus on all the reasons you want to be with her (rather than anything else that might have happened in her life before she met you) only to make the situation easier for you, but also easier for her — and by extension, this will make the experience better for both of you.

If the question is whether you should have protected, i.e. condomed intercourse with her, the answer doesn’t change regardless of whether she’s a virgin; the answer is yes. Correctly using a condom (including using water-based lubricant along with it) means you have one less reason to consider her virginity, she has one less reason to consider yours, and you both have less reason to worry how much your lives might be altered if she gets pregnant without that being part of your plans.

I hope this helps! Good luck!


Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at carolqueen.com.

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