In general, a pelvic exam or a vaginal exam cannot reveal with absolute certainty that a woman is a virgin or has been sexually active. It is always better to have an honest discussion with your gynecologist about your sexual history. This makes it easier for them to look for the early signs of pregnancy and test you for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea and genital herpes. You can also discuss proper methods of birth control with them.
Every person is unique. Many people believe in the concept of virginity and hold it sacred. Though being a virgin or being a responsible sexually active person is a personal choice, an intact hymen has been used as proof of virginity in the past. The truth is that the hymen is a flexible piece of mucosal tissue that may be thick, thin or even absent in some women. In some women, using a tampon, vigorous cycling, exercises and masturbatory activities may cause the hymen to rupture.
The appearance of a hymen often changes with age. There is no hard and fast rule here. Therefore, a gynecologist can’t tell if you are a virgin by doing a physical exam because of the variation in different hymens and the absence of a hymen isn’t an indicator of sexual activity.
- According to the United Nations, virginity tests are often performed by inspecting the hymen for tears or the size of its opening or inserting fingers into the vagina.
- However, the World Health Organization states that there is no evidence that the test can prove that a woman has had vaginal intercourse or not.
- The hymen can stretch or tear during many intense physical activities, such as cycling, swimming and horseback riding.
- Some hymens stretch more than others and will never split or bleed. It is impossible to tell by looking at a hymen whether you have had sexual intercourse or not.
A pelvic exam can be done even if you have never had sexual intercourse because the opening to your vagina is large enough to allow for the exam. Most of the time, a doctor can't tell if a girl has had sex just from a pelvic exam (and doctors don't usually give teen girls pelvic exams unless there's a sign of a problem). However, let the doctor know if you have had sex anyway. Having unprotected sex puts you at risk for STDs as well as unplanned pregnancy.
How does the hymen change?
The hymen is a stretchy collar of tissue at the entrance to your vagina. It is protected by your labia. Hymens can be of many different shapes and sizes. They may have a ring shape, half-moon shape or squiggly edges with notches all of these are normal. The size of the opening in your hymen also varies in size and shape. Your hymen changes throughout your life.
- Before puberty, your hymen is thin and may be sensitive.
- During puberty, increased hormones (estrogen) cause your hymen and other vaginal tissues to become thicker and more stretchy.
- During pregnancy, increased hormones cause vaginal tissues to become even more stretchy to allow for childbirth.
- Childbirth may also change the shape of your hymen and your vaginal tissues.
- With menopause and aging, your hymen and other vaginal tissues become thinner again (as estrogen decreases).
What is hymenoplasty?
Hymenoplasty or hymen restoration is a procedure that repairs a ripped or torn hymen. The hymen is a ring-like skin membrane partially covering the opening of the vagina. The biological function of the hymen is still under debate. However, its social function is widely known for its virginity status when intact.
- Hymenoplasty entails suturing of the ripped hymen together. Sometimes, tissue from the sides of the vagina is used.
- It is an outpatient surgery that is done under local anesthesia and takes less than one hour.
- It is important to understand that hymenoplasty is not a permanent procedure.
- Because it is not meant to last long, it is ideal to have the procedure performed a month or two before intercourse.
- However, if you suffer from any chronic medical conditions, you should bring it to the notice of your plastic surgeon who can devise the procedure accordingly.
The whole idea about the absence of part of the hymen means you are not a virgin is erroneous. It is your choice to retain your virginity or experience sexual intimacy with another person without pressure or impairment (such as from drugs or alcohol). Virginity cannot be lost or taken by someone else. This is important to understand because you are in charge of your body and of your sexuality.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care: "Is My Daughter Still a Virgin? Can You, Please, Check It, Doctor?" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5958548/
International Society for Sexual Medicine: "What Is Virginity Testing? Why Is It Used, and What Are Its Potential Effects?" https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-is-virginity-testing-why-is-it-used-and-what-are-its-potential-effects/
Top Can a Gynecologist See If You're a Virgin Related Articles
48 Reasons Why People Have SexSince ancient times, the reasons people have sex have been assumed to be few and simple. However, several proposed theories suggest reasons to perform the carnal act may be larger in number and psychologically complex.
Does Celibate Mean Virgin?Celibacy is not the same as virginity. It is voluntary, and it can be practiced by those who have had intercourse before. Celibates can always go back to being sexually active.
Female Sexual Dysfunction: Treatment for Women’s Sexual DisordersFemale sexual dysfunction symptoms can limit a woman’s sex life. Female sexual dysfunction guidelines aim to identify and address any psychological and physical causes of the problem. Sometimes doctors prescribe drugs to treat female sexual dysfunction symptoms.
What Are the Four Phases of the Sexual Response Cycle?Sexual arousal is being sexually excited. Everyone’s sex drive is different, and there is no quantifying how much amounts to normal sex. Everyone’s sexual desire and interests are different and can change over time.
How Common Is Female Sexual Dysfunction?Sexual dysfunction is known as recurrent or persistent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm or pain that can potentially create a strain in relationships. Sexual dysfunction in women is fairly common. Around 43% of women experience sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives. However, some may have difficulties throughout their lives and this can occur at any stage of life.
Is It Normal to Have Sex Every Day?Sex is known to be a proven stressbuster that elevates your mood instantly, and yes, it is completely normal to have sex every day. There are phases in life when you have sex more frequently.
Does sex really help you lose weight? While it’s not the most effective form of exercise for weight loss, it can burn calories and work for certain muscle groups.
What Are Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Symptoms?Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known by the name Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a hormonal problem that causes women to have a variety of symptoms including irregular or no menstrual periods, acne, obesity, and excess hair growth. Treatment of PCOS depends partially on the woman's stage of life and the symptoms of PCOS.
Sex & Love QuizRelationships, sex, and love! Could it be that what motivates physical attraction in us may be all in our minds? Take the Sex & Love Quiz to challenge yourself on healthy human sexuality!
Sexual Health: 12 Tips for Better SexCan you learn new techniques to breathe better? Healthy breathing helps you maintain the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. Breathing training and other healthy habits can improve your lung capacity.
Sexual HealthSexual health information including birth control, impotence, herpes, sexually transmitted diseases, staying healthy, women's sexual health concerns, and men's sexual health concerns. Learn about the most common sexual conditions affecting men and women.
Benefits of SexHow would you like a stronger immune system or better sleep? Action between the sheets can help you get all of this and more. Read on to discover the surprising health benefits of sex.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)Common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in women include gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, and HPV infection (genital warts). Learn about types, symptoms, and treatment.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pregnancy (STDs)When you are pregnant, many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be especially harmful to you and your baby. These STDs include herpes, HIV/AIDS, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Symptoms include bumps, sores, warts, swelling, itching, or redness in the genital region. Treatment of STDs while pregnant depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy and the progression of the infection.
Teen Drama: Handling Mean Girls, Cyber Bullying, and TextingHere are tips on dealing with teen dating, sexting, cyber bullying, mean girls, periods, bad breath, and more as health experts explain when and how to get help.
What Happens to Your Bodies During Sex?While engaging in sex or during masturbation, your body undergoes physical and emotional changes known as the sexual response cycle. You need to know the body’s response toward each phase of the cycle to enhance the relationship or identify the cause of sexual dysfunction.