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I started to use a tampon because I wanted to go swimming while I was on my period.  My mom got upset and told me if I used a tampon I wasn't a Virgin anymore. I wanted to know if my hymen was torn or broken. Is there any way to get that checked?

We're sorry you were made to feel ashamed about using tampons, which is a totally normal and healthy way to manage your period. It's important to know that “virginity” isn’t a medical term, and everyone gets to decide individually what virginity means to them.  Some people define “losing their virginity" as having penile-vaginal intercourse for the first time; others include oral or anal sex in this definition. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who can define when you are or aren’t a virgin anymore, and how you feel about it.

The hymen is a thin membrane that either partially or fully covers the opening to the vagina. Its size and shape varies greatly from person to person, and some female-bodied people don't have a hymen at all. Hymens can be stretched or slightly torn by fingers, tampons, penises, or other things inserted into the vagina. Sometimes it will bleed a little, but sometimes there's no blood at all. Hymens can also be stretched or broken in childhood by everyday activities like riding a bike or playing contact sports.

There is no test to determine “virginity” because it isn’t a medical concept, and because even if someone’s hymen has been broken or stretched, this doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sexual activity.

If you want to check out some fun and informative TikToks about this and other sexual health topics, check out Dr Staci Tanouye's page!

Will my hymen break the first time I have sex?

We'll assume that you're asking about vaginal sex, since this type of sex can impact the hymen. The answer to your question is complicated because it depends on each individual and their body. Some people's hymen might break the first time the have sex; it might be uncomfortable for some people but others may not feel it at all. Some people don't have an intact hymen when they have penetrative sex for the first time (it could have broken/been stretched from doing all sorts of activities growing up) so having vaginal sex for the first time wouldn't do anything to their hymen. Finally, some people are born with a barely-there hymen in the first place, so nothing would happen the first time they had penetrative sex.

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