Ask Ness: Can using Sex Toys take away your virginity?
Ness Cooper answers whether there is a link between sex toys and virginity
Question: “I have been considering using sex toys but worried that I will lose my virginity. Can you lose your virginity with sex toys?” – Anon
When we start looking into exploring sexual pleasure for the first time, it can be hard to avoid questions about sex-related beliefs and morals. A common moral conflict to arise is the concept of virginity.
Virginity is so strongly enforced from an early age that it’s hard to avoid it, but essentially it is a social construct that has carried on throughout history, often by various influencing pillars of the community, religion, politics, and within the family through generational trauma and shame.
Virginity itself is heavily influenced by Western society, particularly areas within the West that have been dominated by Christian values. Before it was heavily influenced by Christianity it was mentioned by Aristotle as a way of testing a woman’s commitment to their partner. Aristotle recommended that all women should be tested for their virginity before their wedding night to make sure they could submit to their partner. one of the big issues here is, that throughout time virginity testing has mostly had a focus on cis-woman’s bodies and their ability to prove their worth and “functionality” to a partner.
There is little focus on cis-men having to prove their virginity throughout history with many automatically being labeled as adequate partners.
On top of this most virginity tests have worked on the theory that the hymen breaking proves that someone is no longer a virgin. In some cases, the hymen has been documented to break naturally in children under 10!
How does the hymen break? The hymen can just simply break over time without a direct cause. Some may find certain sporting activities to it breaking. Whilst penetration can cause an intact hymen to break, it doesn’t always break from it including with sex toys or penile to vaginal sex. A hymen may also break in parts rather than breaking and forming a single hole, there may be various holes known as a septate hymen.
When a hymen breaks it doesn’t always bleed. It’s actually very unlikely to noticeably bleed. If you’re looking for blood after your first experience of penetrative sex, don’t be disheartened if you don’t experience this. Some sex educators are now suggesting that when a hymen bleeds, it isn’t the hymen itself bleeding, but rather individuals new to sex engaging in penetration without warm-up of foreplay and lubricant.
The hymen doesn’t regrow. Once the skin membrane of the hymen is broken it won’t regrow. Some individuals may look into hymen repair particularly if their culture stresses the need for a complete hymen, but please be aware that the hymen itself doesn’t medically prove whether or not you’re a virgin as virginity is a societal concept.
What does the hymen actually do?
We don’t fully know. The hymen is just a thin skin membrane that covers the vaginal entrance. It may be there to help reduce bacteria from entering the vagina and reduce infection, particularly during the early years of life. It doesn’t contain many blood vessels at all so is unlikely to bleed much. Due to it lacking nerve fibers too, it’s unlikely to hurt when it breaks, and if someone is experiencing pain during penetration it is likely due to other reasons. This is why foreplay is important.
So can I lose my virginity by using sex toys?
Whilst sex toys may break the hymen, the hymen itself doesn’t prove medically whether or not you’re a virgin.
It’s best to ask yourself where your idea of virginity comes from, and whether it’s important to you and why? This may help solve some conflicts you may have around sex toys.
Some virginity myths are carried on throughout generations within our learning and family environment and sometimes these are heavily enforced by trauma. If you’re really struggling with the idea of virginity and sex toys, exploring your education around virginity may help. Taking a trauma-informed approach may support you in working out why you feel certain ways about virginity and sexual pleasure.
Some individuals may still like the concept of virginity as a personal ritual. If this is the case for you, then that’s ok. We just can’t enforce this onto others as it will mean very different things for each individual. We all have sex rituals that are important to us, and first-time experiences can be very important, particularly in how we enjoy similar experiences in the future.
We can also look at virginity as a broader way of ticking off our sexual bucket lists. Such as “I’m an anal virgin.” And when exploring a new act you reach a personal milestone or milestone together as a couple.
If you’re questioning whether or not sex toys will take away your virginity it may also just be a sign that you’re ready to explore that part of your life. If this is the case then investing in a few different sex toys may be helpful, and incorporating foreplay and lubricant should make the experience comfortable and pleasurable.
If virginity is a myth mostly from the past why is it still so important to some?
Virginity is still a popular social trend and whilst scriptures and religion don’t seem to be as solid of a driving force as it used to be, beings are still sharing misinformation about virginity. Many of these are through media such as TikTok. You can read about an article I helped with in the Independent on TikTok and Virginity here.
Patriarchy still seems an important factor when it comes to virginity, and is often used to control cis-women’s and non-binary individual’s sexuality. Many women are able to enjoy the same level of sexual satisfaction as their cis-male peers nowadays too with the advances in contraception and family planning. We’re also fully aware now that not everyone wants to engage in sex purely for reproductive reasons and many are able to safely and happily enjoy sex on their own terms without the worries of pregnancy or STIs.
As a social trend virginity testing can still be very harmful, and it’s worth looking into the background as to where and why some of this information is being shared. Sometimes this may also be due to some companies wanting to gain financially through selling false medical procedures, which may even result in pelvic issues later in life.
Even after exploring the various reasons behind your beliefs around virginity, if you’re still struggling with conflicts on whether or not you should explore sex toys and sexual pleasure, then booking a sex therapy session can help find the right answer for you.
Remember this is all about finding the right boundaries for you.