The question of using a cup when you are a virgin comes up a lot, whether it is possible to use a cup or whether using a cup can have an impact on your virginity.
As usual, we have done a lot of research to provide you with an accurate and well-sourced answer.
What is virginity?
For some people, being a virgin means never having had vaginal penetrative sex.
But for others it goes further, as in some cultures or religions it is associated with a preserved hymen. When we are asked about the use of the cup when we are virgins, it is quite often to ask us if using a cup can break the hymen. And we know how important this is in a number of cases.
So we read a lot of studies on this subject. One of them, published in the scientific journal The Health in 2012, particularly struck us.
The article is called "Hymen: facts and conceptions" (link in footer). It was written by two academics: Abdelmonem Awad Hegazy (Zagazig University of Medicine, Egypt) and Mohammed AlRukban (College of Medicine, Saudi Arabia).
The conclusion of the study is clear: "The hymen is not a precise indication of virginity. Knowledge of the anatomy of the hymen and its abnormalities is essential to eliminate misconceptions about it."
What does the hymen look like?
Doing an image search in the office is not necessarily the best idea.
On the other hand, we invite you to watch this video of a TEDx Talk held in Oslo, which finally describes the subject just as well. The two speakers are authors of the (very good) book Les joies d'en bas (Ed Actes Sud). It is so instructive that we decided to put the whole translation here, even if it is long!
"Like most of you, we grew up believing that the hymen proves virginity. But we were wrong. What we discovered is that the stories we were told about female virginity are based on 2 anatomical myths. The truth has been known in the medical community for over 100 years and yet these 2 myths continue to make life difficult for women all over the world.
The first myth concerns blood. This myth tells us that the hymen breaks and bleeds the first time a woman has vaginal sex. In other words, if there is no blood on the sheets after this first intercourse, then the woman was not a virgin.
The second myth is the natural consequence of the first: since the hymen is supposed to break and bleed, people believe that it disappears, or at least is radically altered during the first sexual intercourse. If this were true, then it would be easy to determine whether a woman is a virgin or not by performing a gynaecological examination.
These are the two myths: virgins bleed and hymens disappear forever.
It may seem like a minor issue: why should you care about a vague fold of skin on a woman's body? But in truth, it is so much more than a simple anatomical misunderstanding. Myths about the hymen have endured for centuries because they have cultural significance. They have been used as powerful tools to control female sexuality in just about every culture, religion and decade. Women are disbelieved, shamed, molested and in the worst cases, subjected to "honour killings" if they do not bleed on their wedding night. Other women are forced to undergo degrading virginity tests simply to get a job, to preserve their reputation or to get married:
- In Indonesia, women are systematically screened before their military service.
- After the 2011 Egyptian uprising, a group of women protesters were forced to undergo virginity tests by the military.
- In Oslo, doctors examine the hymen of young girls to reassure their parents that their children are not damaged.
- And unfortunately, this list continues.
Women are so afraid of not living up to beliefs about the hymen that they choose to make certain 'virginity deals' to ensure bleeding. This can be plastic surgery (hymenoplasty), or vials of blood spilled on the sheets after sex, or fake hymens bought on the web combined with fake blood and the promise of 'saying goodbye to your dark secrets'.
By telling girls that no act can remain secret, that in any case their body will betray them, we have instilled fear in them. Girls are afraid of destroying themselves, whether it is through sports, play, tampon use or sexual activity. We have reduced their opportunities and freedom. It's time to end the deception of virginity. It's time to bust the myths about the hymen once and for all.
We are medical students working on sexual health and authors of "Les Joies d'en bas". This is a popular science book about the female genitalia.
From experience, people seem to think that the hymen is like a film covering the entrance to the vagina. In Norwegian it is even called the virginal membrane. And so you visualise something fragile, something easily destroyed that you can tear, maybe a bit like a piece of cling film.
You must be wondering why we brought a hoolahoop on stage today. [HITS THE HOOP]
Now, it's very difficult to hide that something happened to that hoop, isn't it?
There is a difference between before and after my punch: the membrane is broken, and unless we change it, it will not return to its original state.
So if we wanted to do a virginity test on this hoop here and now, it would be very easy. It is easy to say that this hoop is no longer a virgin.
But the hymen has nothing to do with a piece of plastic that you can wrap your food in.
In fact, it's more like this[shows a large scrunchy]: an elastic scrunchy.
The hymen is a fold of tissue at the outer opening of the vagina and is usually shaped like a doughnut or half-moon with a large hole in the centre. But it varies a lot, and sometimes hymens can have fringes, or several holes or lobes.
In other words, hymens can look very different and that is why it is so difficult to test for virginity.
Now that we know more about the anatomy of the hymen, let's go back to our two myths: virgins bleed and hymens disappear forever.
But the hymen does not have to break at all. The hymen is like a scrunchy, both in its function and in its appearance. And you can stretch a scrunchy. The hymen can also be stretched, it is even very elastic. And for many women, the hymen is elastic enough to withstand vaginal intercourse without being altered. For other women, the hymen may tear slightly to make room for the penis; this does not make it disappear but it may change its appearance slightly.
So where are we with our two myths?
First of all, if you have an elastic hymen, you will never bleed during intercourse. It doesn't matter if you're a virgin or not, it's anatomically impossible. And this is the case for half of all women. Which means that only half of all virgins can bleed. The first myth is destroyed.
The logical consequence is that the hymen cannot be examined to verify virginity. This was established over 100 years ago, in 1906 by a Norwegian doctor (Dr. Marie Jeancet), who examined a middle-aged sex worker and concluded that her vagina looked like that of a teenage virgin! But it makes sense, because if her hymen was never damaged during sex, then what would you expect to see?
Since hymens all have different shapes, it is difficult to know whether a bump or fold is there because of damage or if it is simply an anatomical variation. The absurdity of virginity tests is highlighted in a study of 36 pregnant teenagers. When the doctors examined their hymens, they could only note obvious signs of penetration on 2 of them! So unless we believe in 34 cases of virginal pregnancies, we must conclude that the second myth falls apart.
You can't look at a woman's crotch and read her sexual history.
Like most myths, those about the hymen are false. There is no virginal seal that disappears after sex and half of all virgins can have sex without bleeding.
We wish we could say that if we removed these myths, everything would be fine. That the shame, the beatings and the honour killings would disappear, but it is not that simple. Sexual oppression of women comes from much more than a simple anatomical misunderstanding of the properties of the hymen. It is a question of cultural and religious control of women's sexuality, and it is much more complicated to change, but we must try.
As medical professionals, this is our contribution: we want every girl, parent or future husband to know what the hymen is and how it works. We want them to know that the hymen cannot be used as proof of virginity. In this way, we can remove one of the most powerful tools of control over young girls.
Having said all this, you are probably wondering what the alternative is: if we can't use the hymen as proof of virginity, what should we use? We choose not to use anything. If you really want to know whether a woman is a virgin or not, ask her. And how she answers you is her choice."
So, can you wear a cup if you are a virgin?
Having explained all this, our position is that yes, it is perfectly possible to wear a cup when you are a virgin.
Obviously, it is above all a question of your relationship with your body: if you are comfortable with your body, even if you are a virgin, this will not be a problem. It may take you a little longer to get used to the manipulations, but that's not even certain.
So if you want to try it, you can go for it!