Newsflash: out of the fifty states in the United States, only THIRTEEN states require sex education that portrays the reproductive anatomy correctly. You heard that right – unless you’re from those 13 states, you might not even have the correct idea of how the reproductive system works.

This is important because we need to understand how our bodies work, and that losing your virginity is not the huge deal that society makes it out to be.

So here I am, white lab coat and stethoscope out, ready to explain how “popping the cherry” works for those who are in the dark or have just plain forgotten.

Disclaimer: This explanation might not apply to everyone. It is also important to recognize that not only cis-women have a vagina.

Actually popping your cherry (the hymen)

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Medically, the hymen is a bit of tissue that either covers the vaginal opening, runs alongside the opening or does not exist at all. Every person is unique, and some people do not have a hymen, to begin with. This is why it is important to understand that “popping” the hymen is not an essential part of first-time sex.

The myth is that if you do not bleed from sex then you are not a virgin, as blood is said to come from the “breaking” of the hymen. However, this is simply incorrect. Most people have “popped” or “stretched” their hymen before they have sex, whether it be from the first time they insert a tampon, participating in sports, or maybe they didn’t have one, to begin with.

When someone does experience pain during sex, the problem usually lies in foreplay.

For example, I did competitive gymnastics for years, so when I had my first time it was different than the picture that was painted for me. I did not experience much pain at all from my first time, and I did not bleed. My experience was different to the experiences that other people will go through.

When someone does experience pain during sex, the problem usually lies in foreplay (not enough lubrication), not with the hymen being torn. Over time the hymen will change depending on a number of developments unique to the individual.

For example, in order for a period to occur, the hymen stretches or even breaks for the blood to escape the vagina. This step is natural and does not make a person less deserving of a good sex life.

The stigma around the hymen

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People throw around the terms “loose” and “tight” when it comes to the vagina, but these statements are misinformed slut-shaming. Scientifically, having sex for the first time or the 150th, time doesn’t change a thing. Your vaginal elasticity does not change with more or less sex.

When a person becomes aroused, blood flows to the vagina. The clitoris, inner and outer lips, as well as the breasts, swell.  They also begin to lubricate – a.k.a. becomes “wet.” The vagina expands in a way that allows for sexual play, and after orgasm, the vagina returns to its previous state, unless there is more stimulation in which case some can continue to have multiple orgasms. The vagina will return to its previous state when the excitement of intercourse dies down, and this happens whether or not an orgasm occurs.

Therefore, the way the vagina expands and lubricates to prepare for sex is why the idea of someone being “loose” or “tight” is absurd.

You do not become looser after having sex with ten people and you do not remain tight when you have only had sex once in your life. This is why tropes like “popping the cherry” are toxic and can result in bullying for people who don’t meet society’s requirements for virginity.

Don’t let anyone pressure you into feeling bad about your multiple or non-existent sexual partners. Just because your hymen has been stretched, or doesn’t exist at all, does not mean that you are “used up” or “loose.” If someone says that you are too loose, then you already know they are not worth your time.

Now rock on and get busy!

  • As the Senior Life Editor, Meagan is proud to help showcase women's voices on issues that matter.