If you're a teen or entering puberty, chances are you've heard the word "virginity." But you might be unclear as to what it exactly means. While "virgin" is often used to refer to someone who has not yet had sexual intercourse, there is no single, clear definition of what talking about sex is. To most teens, virginity is a personal topic that can be embarrassing to talk about.
This article will shed some light on the confusing nature of the term "virginity" and talk about ways to come to terms with your own thoughts and feelings on the subject.
Amanda (not her real name) was feeling overwhelmed. Her parents were preoccupied with financial worries. Her algebra teacher had assigned tons of homework. And her best friend was not speaking to her because of a fight they had a couple of days earlier. Amanda felt alone and afraid. After a particularly tough algebra exam, she felt her world was caving in. She ran into a stall in the girls' bathroom, rolled up her sleeve, and cut her left arm as hard as she could with her nails. She drew blood, but...
For females, virginity used to be defined by an intact “hymen.” The hymen is located about a half-inch inside the vagina. Not all girls are born with hymens, which makes this definition of virginity somewhat misleading.
Another definition of a virgin is a girl whose vagina has not been penetrated sexually. The problem with this definition is that there are different ways of penetration.
You may need to first figure out how you define "sex" before you define "virginity." For instance, one person might think that any penetration of the vagina equals sexual intercourse. Other people restrict the definition of "sex" to penetration by the penis. Some people believe oral sex is "sex"; others disagree. These concepts depend on both emotional and physical factors. You have to determine what virginity means to you.
Two more terms you should be familiar with are "abstinence" and "celibacy."
"Abstinence" (based on the word "abstain") can refer to voluntarily giving up anything, including eating or drinking. In the context of virginity, abstinence refers to not having sex.
"Celibacy" specifically refers to sexual abstinence. "Chastity" means almost the same thing as both "virginity" and "abstinence," but it comes closer to the word ''purity.''
Virginity, Religion, and Morality
Men and women of various religions follow certain rules about virginity, according to their belief systems. Many Christian denominations encourage women to practice abstinence until they are married, based on certain verses in the New Testament of the Bible. Similarly, Islam requires that females abstain from sex until marriage. Orthodox and Conservative Jewish traditions also place a similar value on virginity.
If you want to know more about how your own religion or belief system deals with virginity, talk to your parents, a religious counselor, an older sibling, or a trusted friend. Because each religion deals with the subject differently, it is important to know that your views on virginity are your own and should not be forced on anyone else. At the same time, it is something that is important to talk about and feel comfortable with, so you will know when you are ready to engage in sexual intercourse.