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. 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. The definition of virginity is complicated.
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The concept of female "virginity" has a complicated history, and has often been incorrectly linked to breaking the hymen. Bleeding after intercourse was thought to be proof of an unbroken hymen, and thus, proof that a woman had not had sex before. The reality, however, is that the state of your hymen has nothing to do with sexual activity. As for how to know if your hymen is broken, it's near impossible to see it for yourself.