Losing your virginity can be a big deal, regardless of your age, experience, and the research you’ve done (though it doesn't always have to be). Your first time can be super uncomfortable, a lot of fun, really awful, or all of the above — there’s no right or wrong way to have sex. Sometimes, it’s hard to define what even counts as sex. No matter what you’ve seen in movies or heard about from your friends, there are things no one tells you about sex, like how you might feel afterwards or the pain you might have during.
It definitely helps to understand what’s really happening when you’re having sex. Like: If there are two holes in your vagina (your urethra and your vaginal canal), which hole does sex happen in? And what about all this "popping the cherry" stuff I've heard about? And WTF is a hymen?!
Let's starts off by answering that last question. Your hymen is a majorly misunderstood part of your body — many people think being a virgin is defined by how open your hymen is. This is totally false! Everyone’s hymen is different, whether intact or not. It has nothing to do with your virginity. According to Planned Parenthood, the hymen is “a thin, fleshy tissue that’s located at the opening of your vagina.” In most cases, it’s what covers your vaginal opening, where your period blood comes from and your tampon goes in. Your hymenal tissue can be stretched open from masturbating, putting in tampons, vaginal sex, riding a bike… the list goes on.
When it comes to sex, all of the action happens in your vaginal canal (which is where you put a tampon in and where period blood comes out). Your urethra is a tiny hole above your vaginal opening where pee comes out AKA it's not involved in any kind of penetration.
There are SO many different reactions you could have, both emotional and physical, to having sex for the first time, all of which are completely normal. As long as you use protection and are 100 percent sure you're ready, you're in a good place. Keep reading to find out things that no one tells you about losing your virginity.
1. You should think about talking to your doctor.
Ok, so there's this thing called doctor/patient confidentiality, which means that whatever you tell your doctor stays inside the walls of the examination room. If you're thinking of having sex or if you've already started, you'll want to start talking to your doctor about it. I know, I know: It's going to feel so weird to talk to an adult about sex. But, trust me, they hear about sex and vaginas all day, every day, so nothing will be a shock to them. This is a great place to ask about any questions you might have.
2. You can change your mind at any point on the night-of.
Let's set the scene: You're passionately kissing your s.o. and you've both decided that tonight is the night, but all of a sudden you think: You know, I don't really want to do this right now. That is 10000000000% ok, and you have every single right to let your partner know that. People change their minds over all kinds of tiny things (like craving a burger but then actually realizing you want nuggets), so why would that be any different for something as intimate as having sex for the first time? This is a mutual decision of which you are 50%. If you're not down, then it's not happening, and that's totally cool.
3. No one actually cares if you're still a virgin.
Yes, it seems like all anyone talks about is sex .. .and like all of your friends are doing it ... and like the plot of 8 million movies involves Losing It. But trust us: You are not the last untouched human on Earth. Not even close. It only feels that way sometimes because your virginity matters more to you than it does to anyone else. And *that* is an excellent reason to wait for the positive experience you deserve, full of mutual deep-feels and next-level respect. That person won't care about how much you've hooked up. They'll just be PSYCHED to get to share it with you!
4. Losing your virginity doesn't mean *exactly* what you think it means.
You've maybe got this equation in your head: Penis → Vagina = Virginity Lost. But what if you're into girls, not guys? Does that mean you are you an eternal virgin? (Of course not! That's completely ridic.) "Other activities, like oral sex, can be even more intimate than sexual intercourse — and also carry the risk of STDs," says Kris Gowen, a sex educator and author of Making Sexual Decisions. "Any time you're intimate with someone, it's going to impact you." So don't put too much on the technicality of just one act, and instead think of ~Losing It~ as a progression. Then you'll be prepared to handle all of the big responsibilities (am I being safe?) AND crazy-complex emotions (did he/she really just see me totally naked?!) that come with each and every step.
5. Your doesn't *pop.*
Seriously! If you're picturing something sealing off your vagina like plastic wrap, know that's just not the case. AT ALL. "The hymen consists of thin folds of stretchy tissue that are just inside the vaginal opening," explains Michelle Horejs, associate director of youth education and training at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. "It may tear or stretch the first time you have sex — causing some discomfort or a little bleeding — but it's not something you can break or that disappears once you have sex." (Chances are, you already tore it a bit on your bike, or the balance beam, or just by being an active human. NBD, because your hymen is just a part of your body. It has nothing to do with whether or not you're a virgin.)
6. But it could hurt a little.
Before you freak, let us explain. To prep for sex (we're mostly talking penis-vagina intercourse here), your body needs a warm-up phase of kissing, touching, etc. That's when a guy gets his erection, and also when your vagina lubricates to prepare your body for sex (because no lubrication = friction = pain). But the tricky part is that nerves can interfere with this arousal process, and you and your partner could get aroused at different speeds. "Guys are like microwaves and girls are slow cookers," explains Stardell Smith, a health educator at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York City. (LOL!) You can use your fingers to check if you're ready down there. And if not: Slow. Them. Down. If you're not wet enough, don't be too concerned — there is nothing wrong with you or your partner. You can also try using lube to make the deed a lot more comfortable for both parties.
7. Your body will feel different.
After you have sex, your vagina becomes more flexible — your vagina will get more used to penetration, which means sex will get more comfortable for you as time passes. Plus, your boobs will temporarily become firmer, as the arousal will cause your blood vessels to dilate and your breast tissues to swell up. Your nipples will also become more sensitive than normal. Why? Blood flow and muscular tension increase when you're turned on, which makes your nipples become hard.
8. Your virginity is not a gift.
Perhaps the most confuzzling question you will ever face in your life is, Am I ready to have sex? And it's extra-complicated when you're in a relationship (or, you know, a sorta-kinda-maybe-relationship) and start to feel like there are expectations on the other end. But just remember that you never owe someone sex, no matter how nice they are, or much they spent on concert tix, or that it's your whatever-month anniversary or someone's birthday or anything else. Yes, we know. You're looking for a heavenly sign that it's time. But the truth is, that sign won't come from anyone else ... it has to come from you.
9. Losing it takes a LOT of planning.
Or at least ... it should. And we're not talking lighting candles, cueing up a special sexy-time playlist, and sprinkling a bed with rose petals. Nope, nope. See, with sex comes ginormous responsibility: Am I on birth control? Who's going to get the condoms (if I'm sleeping with a guy)? And where/when can we find a private space and time to get it on? If you're seriously considering taking the next step, you've got to be seriously ready to answer these Qs and understand that sex can bring life-changing consequences, like pregnancy or an STD you'll have for the rest of your life. Plus, it's totally possible to get pregnant during your first time, so always be safe! Sex is not just spontaneous magic, like in the movies. But knowing you were adult enough to do it right will feel WAY more special in the long run.
10. You are going to feel like the newb-iest of newbs.
And guess what? You should just embrace it, because no one would expect you to nail a brand new dance routine or stand up your first time surfing. The truth is, even if it's not your partner's first time, it's their first time with YOU. No doubt, you're both feeling a little nervous. So rather than obsess silently (am I doing this right? is this good? help?!), be honest about your experience level up front, and straight-up ask what he/she likes throughout. "Whether it's your first time or your 100th time, communication and comfort are key," says Horejs.
11. You might think: This totally sucks.
Beforehand, your brain was all fireworks-worthy fantasies. In reality, though, sex — that first time — may be more like: That's all?! Really?! In fact, you might want it to be over the second it starts … and that's 100% normal. "Sex takes place mentally as well as physically," explains Smith. "So if you feel tense or are scared, which most people do feel their first time, it can be really difficult to enjoy your experience." In addition, your hormonal changes might lead to emotional outbreaks post-sex. Your emotions are at an all time high after sex, so don't worry too much if you're experiencing extreme feelings, both negative and positive. When you grow more comfortable, however, you'll feel more at ease — both with the act itself and your partner.
12. Afterwards, your relationship can get weird-ish.
Real talk: Losing your virginity can bring you and your bae closer. But what no one really talks about is how it can also test your bond in crazy ways. A late period, a questionable bump down there — sh*t can get serious very fast, and those uncertainties can poke holes in your connection. So before you make the decision to hook up (any time! not just the first time), always ask yourself: Is our relationship strong enough to withstand the worst-case scenarios? Can I trust this girl/dude to treat me with total respect afterwards? This is a big decision, and you'll need the *ultimate* gut-check. Also, don't kid yourself into thinking that sex will turn a casual hookup into a relationship. The only thing that leads to a relationship is caring deeply about each other, and that doesn't have anything to do with when you lose your virginity.
13. It might not be ~magical~.
Movies and TV shows create all kinds of ideas about what first time sex looks like. If you want candles and romance, you should make that known. But if you want to just do it to get your first time behind you, that's ok, too. As long as you're protecting yourself against STDs and pregnancy, you can do it however it feels right to you (there's no right or wrong way to have sex for the first time).
14. You can lose it again. And again. And again.
Yes, that sounds impossible, but stick with us here. Because if you have had sex once (or twice) and it's not the experience you had hoped for, you can take what you've learned about what you want and…get this…wait for it. "Having sex once does not open up the floodgates," says Gowen. "You always have the right to pull back and say no." In fact, being a born-again virgin can be totally empowering. It gives you the chance to hold out for whatever was missing the first time — whether that was true love … or just a real bed. (You deserve both! XOXO)