Before we get started, we want to address that there are common myths around virginity that perpetuate the idea that a broken hymen means someone is no longer a virgin. The truth is, a person’s hymen—the layer of thin tissue at the opening of the vagina—can be stretched or torn during plenty of activities other than sex. They come in different shapes and some people are even born without one entirely.
Having an intact hymen and being a virgin aren’t the same thing.
We do also want to respect that in some cultures the state of the hymen still holds a lot of importance. As with all things personal care and body, do what you feel is best for your own body and do what you are comfortable with—whatever that looks like. Your choice of period care is personal and it is yours alone.
So, Let’s Talk About The Hymen
Like almost every other part of our bodies, and since they come in different shapes and sizes, most hymens have some sort of opening already. It may be typical, or it may be a little different. The diagram below shows some of the natural variations in how the hymen may look.
Your hymen can be stretched during strenuous exercise like gymnastics, bike riding, riding a horse, or by inserting anything into your vagina—like a menstrual cup, tampon, sex toy, or finger. One’s preference in period care does not impact their virginity, nor does not having penetrative sex. This is a largely outdated, heteronormative, and often misogynistic take on virginity — which is much more nuanced than that. Tying virginity to the hymen is not only medically incorrect, but can be harmful in other ways as well.
Again — having an intact hymen and being a virgin are not the same thing. And the state of your hymen, alone, does not impact your virginity.
That said, for the purpose of this article, when we use the term “virgin,” we’re referring to individuals who haven’t yet had penetrative sexual intercourse of any kind. It’s not our preferred terminology but it is what people who need to find this resource will search for and we want to make this information as accessible as possible. Hopefully one day in the not too distant future that terminology changes and we can update this resource to reflect that.
How A Menstrual Cup Works
A menstrual cup is worn internally. It is inserted into the vagina, below the cervix, and creating a seal between vaginal walls around it. It works by collecting blood instead of absorbing it like a pad or a tampon.
Since period cups collect menstrual blood instead of absorbing it, they can be worn for up to 12 hours with a greatly reduced risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). When it’s time to empty your cup, remove it (pinch the base of the cup to release any suction created by pulling it gently toward the entrance of the vagina) and then dump out the contents into the toilet. Give it a wash, reinsert, and you’re good to go!
Most menstrual cups and discs are made of medical grade silicone, natural rubber, or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) and can last for years, resulting in lower costs for period management overall, and eliminating waste caused by disposable menstrual products.
The Benefits of Using A Menstrual Cup
- Made of soft, flexible silicone or rubber that moves with you and forms to your body
- Up to 12 hours of wearabilty—meaning fewer interruptions to your day
- More capacity for blood than traditional period products (up to 5x more!)
- A one-time investment for up to 10 years of period protection
- No waste from disposable period products means less trash in landfills
Do Menstrual Cups Hurt If You’re A Virgin?
For some users, menstrual cups take some getting used to. For younger users or those new to the process, inserting and wearing a cup can be a little uncomfortable initially.
Because menstrual cups are designed to be worn internally, some discomfort is possible when first getting used to wearing them. The difference between period cups and traditional period products is that cups are made of soft silicone that’s more able to flex with your body when inserted, as opposed to a tampon which can become stiff and dry.
To help make insertion easier and more comfortable, a little bit of silicone safe lubricant can be use on the rim of the cup prior to insertion.
Can A Menstrual Cup Break Your Hymen?
As we mentioned, menstrual cups are worn internally, so there is a chance they can stretch the hymen in the first few uses. Know that whether it impacts your hymen or not, using a menstrual cup doesn’t mean you’re no longer a virgin.
Some people experience a small amount of pain or bleeding when their hymen is stretched, but this doesn’t happen to everyone. It’s totally possible that you’d have no idea when your hymen is stretched or torn.
Can Teenagers Use Menstrual Cups?
Menstrual cups have no age limit. They’re totally safe for teenagers and even tweens who are comfortable using menstrual products that require inserting, and who are responsible enough to manage health and hygiene when it comes time to empty and clean their menstrual cup. The same would be true of the ability to manage removing a tampon when needed, as not to exceed the length of safe wear time.
Menstrual cups come in different shapes and sizes, and most are made to be flexible enough to accommodate different body and cervix types. First-time or younger cup users might want to consider smaller size cups. Those who are older and have not had any sort of vaginal penetration may also consider a smaller size, but this is not a hard and fast rule. We always recommend consulting our quiz, which weighs a variety of factors when choosing a cup.
4 Tips For Using A Menstrual Cup For The First Time or As A Virgin
1) Consider Choosing A Smaller Menstrual Cup Initially
The right size menstrual cup will vary for everyone and depend on things like the position of your cervix or how heavy your flow is, but if you’re not used to inserting a cup or to the feeling of having something inside your vagina, a smaller cup may be easier to get used to initially.
We are often asked what the best menstrual cups for virgins are and the answer is really that it depends on your body, your period, and your lifestyle. The Cup Quiz is a great starting point, but you know your body best. Use it as a point of reference and go from there. If you need further help or want to ask questions, our Facebook community is an incredible resource for that.
2) Practice With your Menstrual Cup Before You Have Your Period
Getting a chance to practice with your menstrual cup before you have your period is a good idea. This way you can get a feel for the different steps without the mess! Figure out the fold that works best for you with a few trial rounds.
Keep in mind that the cervix does move so it may be higher or lower than it will be during your period and this could impact how it fits.
3) Make Time to Get Comfortable With Your Body
It can be uncomfortable inserting something into your vagina if you’re not used to the feeling. You can use a mirror to help you check things out and explore your body more. If you have questions or concerns, ask a trusted family member or do your best to find accurate information online. Don’t be afraid to seek answers when it comes to your body. Learning more about your body and becoming more comfortable with it can be quite empowering.
4) Be Patient With Yourself
If you’re using a menstrual cup for the first time, remind yourself this is still new, and it’s ok if it isn’t perfect. Take a break and try again another time if you get frustrated. There is no one way to figure this out. If a menstrual cup isn’t working for you or your teen now, there’s no reason you can’t try again in the future. No need to add pressure to an already uncomfortable time.
So, Can A “Virgin” Use A Period Cup?
Yes! Whether you’ve had penetrative sex or not doesn’t impact your ability to use a cup, nor does using a cup impact your virginity.