Let’s talk about sex!

The weekly “Let’s talk about sex” series will look into a different topic about sex and sexuality in an effort to raise awareness, bring education and be a forum for discussion. To write in and share your opinions and stories, email mast@plu.edu.

Disclaimer: this article will not discuss the moral or religious decision-making process involved in deciding whether or not to have sex. Rather, this article aims to educate readers, particularly female Lutes, as to why virginity is a physical myth and a social construct.

To give the following advice some context, I feel that it’s beneficial for you to know the backstory of losing my virginity. I’m a girl and I had sex for the first time when I was 16. After thinking about it for a few months, I made the decision to have sex with a male friend who had more experience than I did. To be perfectly frank, I had sex because I wanted to. I used protection, had an honest conversation with my soon-to-be partner and made sure that I was doing it for the right reasons.

Myth #1: Sex causes the “cherry” to “pop.”
In both sexes, losing one’s virginity does not constitute abrupt physical change. Upon entering puberty, the human body begins to prepare itself for the reproductive functions that are necessary for sexual intercourse to occur. Having sex does not cause any permanent changes in the male body, and only one piece of the female body is slightly, if at all, altered. This brings us to a common piece of information: there is no such thing as “popping” a “cherry.”

The physical piece of tissue called the vaginal corona — also known as the hymen or cherry — can’t break. Why? It’s not a solid piece of tissue in the first place. In fact, if a hymen was to be completely intact, it wouldn’t allow for menstruation to occur. This important sign of sexual maturity is — hopefully — reached before a woman is vaginally penetrated: a woman must have already reached her first period in order to produce the proper hormones to aid in lubrication and expansion of the vaginal opening.

Depending on the elasticity of the corona, it’s possible for a woman to never have her “cherry popped,” even during sex. There are also a variety of other non-sexual activities that may cause the hymen to stretch to the point of “breaking.” Athletics, especially activities such as horseback riding or cycling, are a common cause for bleeding. Routine medical examinations and even tampons are other possible causes of a ruptured hymen.

Having a hymen does not a virgin make. Nor does having a broken hymen make for a non-virgin.

Myth #2: First-time sex is always awful and — painful for the girl.
There are many reasons that can cause a girl to have an unpleasant first time. The most common cause of bleeding during inaugural sexual experiences is more often attributed to a lack of proper lubrication and a lack of experience than a physical flap that tears upon entry.

Fear is also a big factor in the discomfort that comes with the first time. Fear can cause both males and females to tense up and not fully enjoy the experience. This may make sex slightly painful, or possibly just slower or more awkward than anticipated, but it’s easily avoidable — experience of both partners is always a factor in sex. Communication before the event about what each person likes can make sex more pleasurable because there’s less “shooting in the dark.”

Girls who are comfortable in their own body are also likely to enjoy themselves more. Instead of focusing on how they look or sound, they can actively participate without reservations. Sex is a process that humans are biologically programmed to do, so there’s no need to overthink it.

Myth #3: You will always remember your first.
If you’re lucky enough to have found the love of your life and plan on having sex with only them for the rest of your life, more power to you. If you’re one of those experimenting with sex for the first time, this is simply not the case. There’s an incredible amount of pressure on having a “special” first time. If that’s what you’re after, then by all means be sure to evaluate the quality of your relationship with your partner before having sex. But please, don’t feel the need to focus on how things should be. Chances are, your first time will be a blip on your sexual radar in a few years.

To my surprise, having sex was not painful or scary, most likely due to my mental and physical preparations. After our incredibly fun evening together, my first partner and I never had sex again. I didn’t regret it at the time, and I don’t to this day. In fact, I still have a healthy friendship with the man who claims my first time. Since this first incidence of sex in my life, I’ve had a steady string of other partners come and go. They’ve consisted of friends, boyfriends and dates; anyone who I felt deserved to give me a positive sexual experience. I’ve yet to regret a single encounter thus far.

The point of this narrative is to show a different story than students usually hear about the loss of virginity. To me, this “loss” was losing nothing more than a title that I did grant any merit to. I was no better or worse for having it. I knew that I was ready for sex, so I made the proper arrangements to experience it for myself. Sex is an incredibly personal journey, and if you’re ready for it, it can be enjoyable and fulfilling for all parties involved.

 

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