Deciding to have sex for the first time is a big decision, but there are lots of myths about virginity.
- What is a virgin?
- Why is there such a fuss about virginity?
- What's the difference between a virgin and a non-virgin?
- Why do some girls bleed the first time they have sex?
- If a girl doesn't bleed the first time, does it mean she's not a virgin?
- Is it true you can't get pregnant the first time?
- Is it true you can't catch any diseases the first time?
A virgin is someone who's never had sex before.
Some people take this to mean that a person has never had any kind of sexual experience.
However, for most people it means they've never had vaginal sex.
In many cultures and religions, a high value is placed on staying a virgin until marriage.
Lots of young people make the mistake of thinking that losing their virginity will make them more grown up or more mature.
In reality, virginity has nothing to do with maturity.
Some people are sexually abused and forced into losing their virginity at a very early age. Other people choose never to have sex and live to a ripe old age.
The experience of having sex for the first time changes us emotionally. If it goes well and we're happy that it happened, it can be a good thing.
If we're not ready or it happened in a way we didn't like, we can regret what happened and feel low.
It's also normal to feel nervous, excited and even a bit worried about having sex for the first time.
You can't undo the fact of having had sex for the first time (or any time). This is why it's important to think carefully about it, talk things through with your partner and to treat yourself and others with respect.
Read more about being ready for sex.
Some girls may bleed when they have sex for the first time with a boy or using a sex toy because of her hymen breaking.
The hymen is a very thin piece of skin that partly covers the entrance to the vagina and is usually there from birth. When a girl has sex for the first time, she may bleed and feel some pain due to the hymen breaking. Blood from a torn hymen looks different from blood that comes during a girl's period because it's fresh. The bleeding and the pain don't usually last long though.
If a girl doesn't bleed it may be because her hymen is already broken. This can happen during sport or through using tampons. A girl may not know her hymen has broken because it doesn't always cause pain or noticeable bleeding. It can be normal for a girl not to bleed the first time she has sex.
If it's very sore or there's lots of blood and the bleeding won't stop during or after sex, it's important to speak to a doctor.
Sometimes having sex can be uncomfortable or painful, especially if you feel nervous or tense. Kissing and cuddling before sex can help you feel relaxed and ready for sex. If you're not sure if you're ready for sex, it's ok to wait until you know you are.
Most girls are born with a flap of skin called the hymen that partly covers the entrance to the vagina.
It's usually torn before the first time a girl has vaginal sex, for example during sport or when using tampons.
Girls can get pregnant any time after they have their first period.
What's more, because sperm can survive inside a girl's body for over a week, she can even get pregnant before she's had her first period if they're just about to start.
It doesn't matter if the boy has never had sex before either.
To find out more, read our page on using protection.
If the other person has a sexually transmitted infection, they can pass it on. Being a virgin is no protection at all.
This is why it's important to always have safer sex.