- You Define What It Means to You
Everyone has a different idea about what constitutes as ‘losing your virginity’. For some people, it’s the first time they have any sexual contact. For others, they define it as the first time they have penetrative sex. Either way, it’s up to you to define what virginity means to you.
- You’re Not ‘Losing’ Anything
Virginity is a social construct, which means it hasn’t always existed. The term came into popular use in religious texts typically to describe a woman or female assigned person who was ‘pure’ because their hymen was intact. However, it’s actually very common for people with vaginas to break their hymen before ever having sex, either by inserting a tampon, vigorous exercise (especially bike or horse riding), or masturbating.
Often, ‘losing your virginity’ can feel like you’re losing your innocence or pureness too, but this isn’t really the case. Safe and consensual sex isn’t a bad thing; it’s a common and healthy form of intimacy (and it feels good too!). Rather than seeing your first time as ‘losing your virginity’, a more sex-positive approach is to see it as ‘gaining sexual experience’; you’re exploring the human body and learning what gives you pleasure.
- It’s Okay Wait Until You’re Ready
The legal age of consent in Australia is 16. Around this age, there is often a lot of pressure from peers to have sex and a lot of pressure from society to be abstinent. While many young people are ready to have sex at this age and are legally able to do so, this doesn’t mean that you have to. Sex, like any new experience, can be daunting. Consensual sex takes a lot of communication and decision-making. If you don’t feel confident in having these intimate conversations with partner/s, then maybe you’re not ready to have sex yet and that’s totally okay.
Some people don’t experience sexual attraction at all, or only experience it in certain circumstances. These people are on the asexual spectrum and are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Not all asexual people interested in having sex and that’s totally okay.
- It Takes Some Planning:
Safe sex involves making decisions about what kind of contraceptive methods are right for you. Condoms and dental dams are common protective barriers that help protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and blood borne viruses (BBVs). Condoms can also help prevent unplanned pregnancy. You can talk to a sexual health clinician or doctor about other forms of contraception that can be used to prevent unplanned pregnancy. However, many of these do not protect against STIs and BBVs and are recommended to be used in combination with condoms or other barrier protections.
- You Should Still Get Tested
As mentioned before, everyone defines what ‘losing their virginity’ means differently. This can also mean that a sexual partner who tells you they are a virgin may have had unprotected sex of some kind and been exposed to an STI or BBV. It’s also impossible to be 100% sure that your partner/s is being truthful with you about their sexual history. It is wise for you and any prospective partner/s to get tested before having sex. A sexual health test can be done by any sexual health clinic or your local doctor. This isn’t as scary as it sounds; it’s usually just a blood and urine sample. And sometimes they will ask for a vaginal, anal, or throat swab depending on your sexual history.
- It Can Be Awkward
The movies and TV shows we see often represent first sexual experiences as perfect, romantic, or magical. In real life, it can be a lot more awkward. It takes some practice to know what you’re doing, so the first time is likely going to be a lot of trial and error to figure out what you and your sexual partner/s enjoy.
It’s important to remember that penetrative sex (vaginal or anal) should not hurt and if it does, usually it means you need to use more lubricant. If pain is something that persists throughout your sex life, it’s something to bring up with a medical professional.
The fact is, sex can be awkward; whether it’s your first time ever or your first time with a new partner, the key is to communicate clearly about what you like and don’t like so that everyone involved can have the most enjoyable time possible.
For me personally, I didn’t really think much about the concept of virginity the first time I had sex. I was about 19 and for me, sex didn’t feel like a big deal. I enjoyed the chance to be intimate with another person and to explore a new experience, but I also knew that nothing about me as a person had changed. I didn’t feel like I had lost anything. In fact, the whole process of learning how to give another person pleasure was pretty damn empowering.
Moral of the story: there is nothing wrong with sex as long as it’s safe, sane, and consensual. Having sex doesn’t change anything about who you are as a person or make you less ‘pure’. Make informed decisions about your body and your sex life that feel right for you.