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Does abstaining really mean revirginization?

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The question

I'm a 33 yr old woman who hasn't had sex all year (sort of on purpose, mostly just being discerning). Is there such a thing as being revirginized?

The answer

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This is a very personal question and will certainly bring up much interesting discussion from our readers.

The term virgin refers to someone who has never had penetrative sexual intercourse. While it is a common belief that physical evidence of being a virgin involves an intact hymen, this is not true. The hymen is a thin tissue located inside the vulva which partially covers the entrance to the vagina.

In most females, it is flexible and can be torn with penetration but also in nonsexual situations such as horseback riding and bicycling. Once the hymen has torn, it does not grow back regardless of the duration of abstinence. Given that being a virgin is not about an intact or broken hymen, restoring virginity with abstinence is not possible.

Returning to sexual activity after abstaining can initially be uncomfortable but it does not indicate a return of virginity.

This may be in conflict with different opinions based on emotional or certain cultural/religious perspectives, but from a medical perspective, revirginization through abstinence is not possible

Send family doctor Sheila Wijayasinghe your questions at doctor@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Dr. Wijayasinghe.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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