A new study on how the loss of virginity affects men and women across the spectrum is included in a book called Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences. This is the first book of its kind and throws light on the changing views regarding one of the most important events in life. We all read and hear the statistics about at what age's men and women begin having sex, but it doesn't tell us what losing their virginity means to them. Nor do these figures tell us how teens and young adults made decisions about when, where and with whom to lose their virginity, said Vanderbilt University sociology professor Laura M. Carpenter. She conducted a survey among men and women from diverse social backgrounds to find their views about the loss of virginity. Carpenter believes that these findings could help in developing a comprehensive sexual education program for teens and young adults.
Carpenter interviewed 61 young adults in detail from 1997 and 1998. These adults were aged between 18 to 35. Among them were 33 women and 28 men. Among the women 22 identified themselves as heterosexual, seven as lesbians and four as bisexual. Among the men 17 of them described themselves as heterosexual, nine as gay and two as bisexual. Growing up in a context of uncertainty, diversity and change, young people benefit from being able to understand virginity loss in ways that help them fashion specific social identities and that bring them one step closer to adulthood, Carpenter commented. All the participants responded by saying that the loss of virginity was a gift, a stigma or a process of growing up. It makes sense to treat virginity loss as a significant and important life event; however, treating it as one of the most important sexual experiences of a person's life appears to carry real costs as well, Carpenter concluded.