Is It Ever Too Late To Lose Your Virginity?

Hollywood makes it seem like everyone is supposed to lose their virginity in their teen years, whether it's portrayed in high school prom scenes or two teenagers sneaking away to be with each other. But there's a secret that many people don't realize, and that secret is that a lot of people lose their virginity long after high school graduation, with many people having sex for the first time in their adult years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 45% of people lose their virginity after becoming legal adults at age 18, with respective percentages of people of all gender identities waiting until their 20s, 30s, and even later to have sex for the first time. So, if you're still a virgin, know that you aren't alone, even if Hollywood makes it seem like everyone is having sex in high school.

Rushing to lose your virginity early isn't necessarily the best choice for many people. According to a 2007 working paper published by The Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland, over a quarter of men and more than half of women who had sex as teens reported regretting becoming sexually active so early and said their first time having sex didn't occur at the right time for their well-being. When deciding to become sexually active, it's important to take into account your physical, emotional, and psychological wellness. Sometimes, waiting until you're older to lose your virginity can lead to a better experience.

Drawbacks of virginity loss timing

When you lose your virginity, it can affect you in a plethora of ways, from developmental to social and psychological impacts. As reported by Vice, many people who lose their virginity in their mid-20s or later, and are thus dubbed as late sexual starters, feel significant pressure to make up for the lost time when they weren't sexually active. The pressure to compensate for lack of sexual activity sooner can result in risky sexual behavior as well as financial debt if money is spent on mass dating for the purpose of sexual encounters that will presumably make up for losing one's virginity after their teen years.

Despite the social stigma around losing virginity later in life and the entertainment industry's influence on pressures to have sex at a younger age, doing so can have drawbacks when it comes to physical health. A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who lose their virginity at younger ages, particularly in their teen years, face a higher prospect of engaging in risky sexual behaviors, like having multiple sexual partners close together or at the same time, engaging in sexual behaviors while under the influence of alcohol, and facing potential issues with sexual functioning and performance. Conversely, loss of virginity at an older age has also been found to raise the risk of difficulties with sexual functioning, particularly for males. Despite rates of teen pregnancies having declined, teens continue to account for the highest demographic experiencing unintended pregnancies.

Overcoming virginity stigma

To be straightforward, the stigmatized narrative that everyone should lose their virginity by their early 20s disturbs the ability of people to truly embrace their right to sexual freedom. The very concept of sexual freedom is that every person should have the right to choose when they have sex, what kind they have, and so on. As long as sexual encounters with other people are consensual, each person should possess the ability to enjoy sex whenever and however they want or to abstain from sex without having to give a reason to anyone else for why they aren't sexually active, regardless of age. Some people choose to maintain their virginity until marriage, while others may remain virgins for religious purposes, personal preferences, or any other reason. At the end of the day, the reason why someone waits to lose their virginity is their reason alone, and no one else is privy to it.

Choosing to lose one's virginity later in life is a personal choice that you should feel free to make. Some people never have sex, and that is 100% okay. To confirm that you aren't alone if you haven't lost your virginity, approximately 9% of adults worldwide remain virgins in their 30s, and 6% of adults report being virgins in their 40s (via The Healthy Journal). If you want to know if it's ever too late to lose your virginity, it's not; you just have to listen to yourself to know if it's the right time for you, no matter your age.