Virginity is the state of never having had sexual intercourse. It is viewed positively or negatively depending on one's gender, one's age, one's culture and one's own personal beliefs and attitudes.

In some cultures virginity has no special significance, and young people, of both sexes, engage in coitus very early and there is no special status associated with not doing so.

In others, virginity is required of both sexes, and in many it is required of women only. Violation may result in severe punishment.

For example, proving a bride's virginity became a public matter wherein the bed sheets used by the couple on their wedding night were hung out the window for the wedding guests to view. A bloodstained sheet was a sign that the groom penetrated the bride's intact hymen, causing it to bleed. Though not medically true, the theory was that the hymen would be unbroken if she were still a virgin.