Virgin is eager to use tampons, but worried about hymen

Originally Published: April 11, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 8, 1998
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Hi Alice,

I am a virgin but I want to use tampons. Can I even though I am not broken? Please answer quickly. I start going to the Y in a few weeks! I have no one else to ask. I heard about your Web site on a news station. Thank you so much!

Dear Reader,

Yes, you can use tampons. Alice suggests that you practice putting in the tampon by first using the skinniest-sized tampon -- "slender" or "slim." Also dab a bit of water-based lube on the outside of the tampon to make the "sliding in" easier. Using a tampon is a two-step process: you slide in the applicator and then "push the plunger," thereby inserting the tampon. You could practice guiding in the tampon first, without pushing the "plunger," so that you can practice finding the place and angle for insertion.

As for breaking or not breaking the hymen, Alice is not clear why this is important to you. Is it important that you have an intact hymen? Are religious reasons involved? Or cultural reasons? Or curiosity?

Hymens come in various shapes and designs. If your hymen is still intact and shaped like a person-hole cover, or a septum (a thin line of skin which divides the center of the vaginal opening, as does the septum of our nose), then this thin membrane of skin may stretch or break. On the other hand, if you have a hymen shaped like a crescent moon around the bottom or side of the vaginal opening, then tampons may not interfere at all. Interestingly, not all women are born with hymens, and hymens can break without women knowing it. Strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, horseback riding, stretching, or dancing, can also cause the hymen to break. Lastly, a woman's hymen could have already been broken or stretched by sexual activity, even if she has not had a penis inside of her.

So, for all these reasons, Alice encourages you in your tampon adventure. It is a rite of passage, and think of the stories you will tell your friends or write in your journal!