The fun stuff
NSW Government

Ever heard the phrase “popping your cherry”? It’s slang for losing your virginity and refers to the tearing (stretching open) or “popping” of the hymen during vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina intercourse).

Covering the opening of the vagina, the hymen is a thin layer of skin that can be torn or stretched open with penetration. Found about half an inch inside the vagina, the hymen has tiny holes and a small opening in the centre that allows for menstrual flow.

Sometimes the tearing of the hymen can be uncomfortable and cause bleeding. But other times, you might not even notice when it happens

Can my hymen be torn without losing my virginity?

It’s important to remember that the hymen may not be intact before vaginal sex. Some girls don’t even have a hymen.

The hymen’s natural holes stretch open with time and activity. Masturbation, using tampons, and even rigorous activity like horse riding, dancing, riding a bike, and other sports may stretch the hymen before vaginal sex and can cause rupture or tearing.

So yes – the hymen can definitely be torn without losing your virginity. 

Can my hymen grow back?

Nope. Whether the hymen is torn or stretched out through first vaginal sex or another activity, once the hymen is torn it can’t grow back.

Does a torn hymen mean I’ve lost my virginity?

The definition of virginity is complicated. Many people define virginity as never having penis-in-vagina sex, so a torn hymen through masturbation, the use of a tampon, sex toys, or any other activity does not equal a loss of virginity. 

However, this definition is very limiting because it excludes lots of people. Some LGBTQ people may never have penis-in-vagina sex, but don’t think of themselves as virgins. And some people who have had other types of sex, like oral or anal sex, also don’t think of themselves as virgins.