If you use a dildo, does that mean that you’ve lost your virginity?

There are many different beliefs about what it means to be a virgin. Most people agree that women and men lose their virginity the first time they have penile-vaginal intercourse. Many people also believe that people who have sex with the same sex can lose virginity through oral or anal intercourse. Some also believe that people have to give consent to lose their virginity — that virgins who are raped, for example, do not lose their virginity. Nearly all people in the U.S. agree, however, that people who masturbate or have other kinds of sex play — including fingering, or touching a sex partner’s genitals with the hands — are still virgins.

There are still some people who think about virginity in a very old-fashioned kind of way. They believe that an intact hymen — the thin tissue that stretches across at least part of the opening of the vagina in most girls at birth — is the only proof of a woman’s virginity. Most people do not believe this. They know that each girl is born with a hymen, but that hymens come in a variety of shapes and sizes — and some girls may appear to have no hymen at all. Many people also know that it’s possible for a woman’s hymen to become stretched open through insertive masturbation as well as during sports and other non-sexual activities.

A dildo is a type of sex toy that some people use to heighten sexual pleasure. They are usually objects that may or may not resemble a penis. Dildos, and other sex toys, can be used for masturbation — alone or with a partner. Condoms can keep toys clean if they are inserted into the vagina or anus. They should be used when partners want to share the same toy. Dildos and all sex toys need to be cleaned after use — different toys have different cleaning instructions.

Keep in mind that in most states, people have to be 18 or 21 to purchase dildos and other sex toys. In a few states, it’s actually illegal for anyone to purchase them.