i can’t find my hymen. There is no thin membrane around my vagina. All I can see is a long slit. I have never had sex. But I masturbated externally for years. Did I lose my hymen during masturbation? I tried inserting objects into my thing but they won’t go. I don’t know what to think. I am so stressed right now. Please help me.

Some women are born with so little hymenal tissue that it looks like they have none. Masturbating by stimulating your clitoris and vulva won’t stretch open your hymen. But using tampons, doing gymnastics, and riding bicycles or horses can. These are some of the reasons many women who have never had vaginal intercourse have very little hymenal tissue in the opening of their vaginas.

Here are two possible reasons that you might not be able to insert things into your vagina: The first is that you might have more hymenal tissue in the opening of your vagina than you think you do. It can be hard to see and evaluate your own hymenal tissue. The second is that you might not be relaxed enough during insertion.

To accomplish insertion, you should be relaxed, take your time, and be very gentle. You might want to start with a finger. If there is hymenal tissue covering part of the opening of the vagina, it can slowly be stretched open over time using a finger. If there is no hymenal tissue, insertion should be easier, but it still may take time before a woman is comfortable with it. In very rare cases, women with very thick hymens may need medical treatment to remove the tissue.

Some people and cultures believe that having a hymen is a necessary sign of virginity. But “virginity” means lots of different things to different people, and your hymen — or lack of hymen — is nothing to stress over. Having a hymen and being a virgin aren’t the same thing. To find out more about masturbation, hymens, and virginity, visit our Sex and Masturbation page on Info For Teens.