Flash back several years to prom night at a hotel, movie night at the drive-in, or the basement of a house party. Chances are you lost your virginity in one of these scenarios. Whether it was with your first love or a one-night stand, you may have begun to wonder if you lost it too soon, and wonder if you would do things differently if given the chance. While time travel may not yet be feasible, what if you could “re-virginize” yourself? Is it really possible to become a “born-again virgin” through spiritual and surgical routes?

The Social Construct of Virginity

The social construct of virginity will most likely not disappear. People define virginity by what it means to them and what works in accordance to their morals and values. However, the most common definition of virginity for heterosexual women is whether they have had penile-vaginal intercourse.

According to The Kinsey Institute: “Losing one’s virginity is a physical act, whether or not a woman notices any blood from her vagina. The reason why some women bleed when they first have sex is because a thin layer of tissue called the hymen covers part of a woman’s vaginal entrance.”

It is believed when a woman has sex, the hymen tears and she may begin to bleed a bit. However, some women don’t have much of this tissue to begin with, or have tissue that has been torn from using tampons, from masturbation, or from being fingered by a partner. This is why looking for blood on the sheet or going to the doctor is a poor way of determining whether or not a woman is a virgin.

Born-Again Virgin: What Is It?

According to Dictionary.com:

“Revirginzation is the process of a sexually active person attempting to regain virgin status by abstaining from sexual relations, esp. during the time just before marriage; also called secondary virginity, revirgination.”

UrbanDictionary defines being a born-again virgin like this:

"More than a year between sexual relations, with anyone else.”

But, how did this label come to be?

The concept of born-again virginity started to be embraced in the 1990s and early 2000s as abstinence education took root in public schools. The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 sparked the abstinence education movement by promising $50 million every year in Title V abstinence education grants given to schools. This was required to be spent on programs that promote abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage as the standard for all school-age children. Abstinence education funding doubled from $80 million in 2007 to $200 million in 2011.

A single red cherry. Pexels, Public Domain

Some adults who choose to practice secondary abstinence know from experience that sex requires maturity, and when it’s initiated too soon, it could negatively impact the emotional dynamics of a relationship. Becoming a “born-again virgin” allows them to re-create their sexuality with a deeper understanding of the mechanics that go into a sexual relationship.

April Masini, relationship expert and author believes they use this opportunity to reinvigorate other parts of their life.

“For instance, a divorced person may decide to become a born-again virgin to experience dating in a way where sex is not as important in making dating decisions than if they were not virgins,” Masini told Medical Daily.

Recently Reverend Run, cohost of the show,It’s Not You, It’s Men, revealed his personal experience of becoming a born-again virgin prior to his second marriage with his wife Justine.

“Born-again virgin, to me, is almost like being a born-again Christian,” said Rev. Run. “You decided, ‘You know what? I’m changing my life around. Right now, I’m holding the sex back and we’re going to do this in front of God.’”

Reverend Run admitted he did not touch her, but on the day that he did, their son Diggy Simmons was born months later.

Virginity for Rev has a spiritual, faith-based connotation.

Practicing secondary abstinence can be related to religion because sexual relationships are seen as spiritual relationships. For example in some Christian sects, premarital sex is forbidden, but it can be restored through celibacy. It’s a voluntary renunciation of sexual activity either for a specific period or after having been sexually active.

Secondary abstinence is a growing trend among college students. A 2009 study found about 13 percent of over 1,000 U.S. college undergraduate students reported practicing secondary abstinence. The researchers revealed greater religious ties and previous negative sexual experiences as some of the biggest predictors for engaging in this behavior.

There are several sites, including Abstinence Resource Center that promote abstinence as the best way to maintain honesty in a romantic relationship, and offer “secondary abstinence” as a second take on virginity. Site users like 30-year-old David, who lost his virginity at age 17, has decided to regain his secondary virginity and is waiting until he finds that special one.

“Today and every day from here on I choose secondary virginity," he wrote. "Today I’m looking for that special one. So I wait, but my life is not on pause, at 30 I have never felt like I am missing out on anything. Abstaining is actually liberating.”

Meanwhile, others choose secondary virginity for health reasons. A 2012 study explored the interest in secondary abstinence among a population of young African American females at risk for HIV and STIs. The study found women who abstained from sex for a while, unsurprisingly, lessened the risk of contracting or spreading HIV and other STIs.

Reclaiming your virginity can be done through spiritual or surgical routes that allow women and men to have a first-time do-over.

Spiritual Re-Virginization

Federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs started to emerge in the early 1990s in public schools. Girls were taught how to remain abstinent or seek a sexual rebirth. Now, the Internet provides hundreds of sources, like anti-abortion site Lovematters.com, which offers men and women five steps to follow for maintaining their sexual purity. Similar to some religious beliefs on virginity, the site’s first step reads: “Make a firm commitment to save yourself for marriage from now on, and believe you can do it. (Because you can!)”

Meanwhile other steps involve more self-discipline: “Avoid intense hugging, passionate kissing and anything else that leads to lustful thoughts and behavior. Anything beyond a brief, simple kiss can quickly become dangerous.”

This may sound ludicrous since virginity, for heterosexual women, is defined by the lack of vaginal-penile sexual intercourse. However, Masini emphasizes when someone decides to “take back” their virginity, they’re taking back their sexual self. It goes beyond intercourse and the other obvious forms of sex — it’s about changing one’s lifestyle.

“It’s about masturbation, dressing in a way that shows off a sexualized profile, or even flirting,” she said.

Girl with white dress
Girl with white dress. Pexels, Public Domain

Surgical Re-Virginization: The Ins and Outs Of Hymen Restoration

Some women opt for a spiritual route to secondary virginity, while others choose a more extreme form – hymen restoration. Stitching back the hymen is based on the belief that an intact hymen is a representation of virginity. However, the hymen can tear because of other reasons like dance, sports activities, or even the insertion of a tampon during menstruation.

Typically, plastic surgeons repair the thin membrane, either by stitching the frayed ends together or by adding a patch of tissue from the vaginal walls. Dr. Michael Kreidstein, a plastic surgeon in Toronto, Ontario notes sutures used in the repair have fully dissolved by three to six weeks following surgery, and the hymnal membrane heals without visible scars.

He writes on his site: “Bleeding and pain during intercourse has been described to us as ‘a bit more than the first time,’ but that was not seen as a negative characteristic.”

Women are more likely to opt for this procedure if they are victims of rape or abuse, come from cultures where virginity is praised, or simply want to “gift” their spouse with a “rewrapped box.”

Like A Virgin, But Not Quite

The idea of virginity is still muddled even in a society where sending nude selfies is becoming increasingly common. A 2014 study found 44 percent of teens admitted to sending or receiving a sexually explicit text, or sext — about double the 26 percent of those who reported doing so in 2012.

A sexually virginal state is not a definitive black and white concept nor a fact. The hymen is not a reliable marker for virginity. If you’ve had sex, you’re not a virgin. It’s as simple as that. However, if you wish to come to terms with that, and do a “second take,” you’re entitled to a second chance.

The truth is women and men have sexual experiences they wish they could take back. Some lost it too soon, others lost it with the wrong person, and still others lost their virginity against their will.

Perhaps becoming a born-again virgin is a way for some to regain a sense of control and rewrite their past.

“Not everyone is able to revise their personal history this way, but for those who can, it’s a way to recreate who they are,” Masini said.