I recently watched an episode of Game of Thrones in which two characters were conversing about a bride being free to marry another man based on an absurd notion. Basically, since the purported virgin bride did not bleed on the bedsheets on her first wedding night, the first marriage was never consummated and she could now be married off in a second marriage. Let’s ignore the fact that this second marriage would unite two prominent families and just focus on debunking what I like to call the virgin myth.
Let’s start with a solid fact: not every virgin bleeds during her first vaginal sexual intercourse experience.
Another solid fact is that nearly every female human is born with a hymen, which is a piece of fringed tissue that is filled with blood vessels and located in between the two folds of the vulva. The hymen develops during the third or fourth month of pregnancy, and the reason for its development is still a bit of a mystery.
Hymens, just like vulva, come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, which means no two are alike. The hymen doesn’t actually cover the vaginal opening. Instead, the hymen creates folds that cause the opening of the vagina to be smaller in size than it would be without a hymen being present. The size of the hymen opening can be small enough to prevent some women from using tampons during menstruation.
In rare cases, the hymen opening is too small and requires a minor surgical procedure to open it enough to allow for menstruation blood to pass out of the vagina.
As a female grows, the folds of her hymen will open up, stretch and sometimes even tear during activity. Some girls will not realize this is even happening while others may have spotting, or a small amount of vaginal bleeding appearing in her underwear from time to time. Spotting is not generally harmful.
Activities such as horseback riding and gymnastics, fingering oneself during self play or exploration, being fingered by a partner during sex play or using vaginal sex toys can all wear cause a hymen to wear down over time.
When a woman has sex for the first time, she may notice zero bleeding, a little bleeding or heavy bleeding. All of these possibilities are normal reactions to having vaginal sexual intercourse for the first time. The slang term “popping her cherry” refers to when a virgin bleeds during the loss of her virginity.
There are two schools of thought on the subject of women bleeding during their first vaginal sexual encounters. One theory is that the bleeding is associated with the amount of remaining hymen tissue and that this tissue ruptures during intercourse which causes blood on the bedsheets.
The other theory is that the hymen has absolutely nothing to do with bleeding after a woman’s first vaginal sexual intercourse encounter and everything to do with the virgin being nervous about the encounter and not being well lubricated during the sexual act. The lack of lubrication combined with possible tightness in the vagina and possible rushed entry from a penis can result in abrasions to the vagina which ca then bleed.
An article on the site www.ourbodiesourselves.org best sums up virginity. “If a young woman has had a sexual relationship with her partner, and she feels she has lost her virginity, then she has, regardless of what actually happened to her hymen during the encounter.”
Whether or not a woman bleeds during her first vaginal sexual intercourse encounter is not an indicator of her virginity. The only way to know if a woman is or was a virgin during a sexual encounter is to ask her, which some people would consider an invasion of privacy. Bleeding or not bleeding after losing one’s virginity does not diminish a woman or her sexuality.
Virgins and non-virgins alike need to practice safe sexual encounters to reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease and/or experiencing an unplanned pregnancy.