Virginity and Your Choices

Whether you “lose it” or “choose it,” virginity is a big deal for any teenager. In fact, the decision of whether to remain a virgin is probably more complicated today than ever before. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes have always existed. So has the risk of accidental teen pregnancy. But the tendency for teens to start having sex at a younger age and more often has increased these risks. Then, in the 1980s, the emergence of AIDS made sex suddenly scary and potentially deadly.

Teens often feel assaulted by mixed messages about sex. Religious organizations, parents, and politicians sternly warn of the dangers of premarital sex. They may tell teens that premarital sex is immoral or sinful. Yet Hollywood, television, popular music, and advertisers indulge in nonstop images of gorgeous couples engaged in various kinds of sexual activity. The film The 40-Year-Old Virgin treated virginity as a freakish condition that must be fixed at all costs if the protagonist hopes to be normal and have a decent life. These days the pressure to be—or not to be—a virgin is enormous.

The Guttmacher Institute reports that “teens are waiting longer to have sex than they did in the recent past.” Whether or not you remain a virgin, it is important to make an educated decision about what is best for you based on the facts, your beliefs, and your own feelings and needs. It is your body and your life, and you must decide what is right and best for you. No one should pressure you to decide one way or the other.

If you decide to remain a virgin, it means you are mature enough to recognize that you’re not ready to have sex yet and accept the serious responsibilities that come with it. For many teens—especially guys who are often expected by their peers to have sex at the earliest opportunity—being a virgin is embarrassing and something to hide. In recent years, however, a handful of groups supporting teenage abstinence (avoidance of sex) have made “coming out” as a virgin much easier for some people.

If you decide the time is right to lose your virginity, it means you feel secure about your sexual self and want to express it physically with another person to whom you are emotionally and sexually attracted. Sex isn’t bad—it’s extremely natural. If it occurs safely and smartly, under the right circumstances and with the right person for the right reasons at the right time, it can be a wonderful experience.

Sexuality is one of the most fundamental aspects of being human. This is why everybody under the sun has an opinion on the subject. It’s healthy to be exposed to this wide variety of points of view—the more the better—because the worst thing one can do is keep from talking about sex or sexuality at all. Whether you decide to be a virgin or not, keep the lines of communication open, be honest, and be informed. No good and smart decision can be made about sex from a position of ignorance or misunderstanding.