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Ask Bish – How can I have sex without it hurting?

Advice about why penis in vagina sex shouldn’t be painful, even for the first time.

One of the most asked questions I get is from young women who are worried about(penis in vagina) sex hurting, or are having painful sex and wondering why. My first answer is ‘sex shouldn’t hurt.’

Other people may tell you that sex always hurts for the first time so you just have to get it over with and that it will get better eventually. Just because this was true for them doesn’t mean they’re right. Even for the first time, entry sex can feel good. Even if it doesn’t feel amazing it at least should not be painful. If something hurts it’s your body telling you that something is wrong. Listen to your vagina.

Listen to your vagina

Understanding how the vagina actually works may give you a better idea of why it might be painful. Just like the penis and testicles the clitoris and vagina totally changes when turned on. It’s just that the signs of arousal for most males is pretty obvious (hello erections).

I made a video about how the vagina works (called ‘how the vagina works’) last week.

In it I explain how the vagina totally changes when it’s aroused. It stretches, expands and gets really slippy and wet. It’s really important for the vagina to be wet and more relaxed. This is important for first time entry sex because of the vaginal corona at the opening. The opening to the vagina opens a little more and the wetness help

It doubles in length and the area deep inside the vagina near the cervix (called the fornix) expands a lot. This is where the penis goes when you have (penis in vagina) sex. If the fornix haven’t had a chance to stretch then the penis has trouble getting all the way inside and hits the cervix, which is painful. (Someone once described this pain to me and it sounded like the pain people feel when they receive a blow to the balls).

As well as the changes to the vagina other parts of the vulva change too. The clitoris fills with blood and gets hard (clitoral boner). The lips swell and throb and gets more and more sensitive too. Other parts of your body may also feel really good at this point.

Homework (masturbation)

However it’s one thing to read this but it’s not the same as feeling it for yourself. The best way to do this is through masturbating. I’ve written tons of stuff about masturbation (including a quiz!). It’s up to you if you want to masturbate or not. It’s not for everyone. But it’s probably the best way to understand how your body works. If you do have a go, observe what happens to your body. Can you feel the swelling and throbbing I was talking about? Is there more wetness? Notice other parts of your body and how it changes. What happens with your breathing? What’s happening in your head?

The idea is that you practise this stuff by yourself so that you can share some of what you’ve learnt with your partner. You can share this journey together of learning how you both get turned on and can explore different ways of having sex with each other.

Do what you actually *do* like

Instead of focussing on what you can’t do or what might be painful, think about what sex you do like and do that instead. Sex isn’t just penis in vagina. In fact sex isn’t just anything ‘in’ anything. Some of the most exciting sex people have may not involve any entry at all, it may not involve genitals, taking clothes off or even being in the same room as each other. More about this here and here. You could have think about where on your body you like to be touched and find a way of telling your partner. (texts, drawings, whispers, pointing, guiding hands, post it notes).

Persistence is not good here

It’s important that you don’t just ‘keep going’ with painful penis in vagina sex hoping it will get better some day. The vagina doesn’t stretch a bit more each time you have sex. It only stretches when you’re turned on, and being turned on involves your brain and the rest of your body working together encouraging hot sexy feelings. If your body hurts you’ll tense up and it will feel more painful. You may also be storing up memories of crap painful sex that you may find hard to forget about when you have sex in the future. The more bad sex you have the more likely you’ll have bad sex in the future, but the reverse is also true.

Some advice about doing it, if you’re ready

However if after all this advice you feel ready to have a go at penis in vagina sex remember that you both need to be turned on in order to have sex that is enjoyable. This means a hard penis & wet throbbing expanded vagina. Make sure you have lots of different kinds of sex which you both find hot and include the penis in vagina bit as part of that. Masturbation first may help. Slowly inserting a finger into the vagina can help the opening to relax more and also spread some of the wetness around. You could get hold of some water based lubricant if you want to help the wetness along a bit but don’t use it instead of vaginal wetness. If the vagina isn’t getting wet at all then you may not be ready for this kind of sex.

Perhaps also it’s worth thinking about whether you are totally ready for any kind of sex with someone at all (more on this here). Or is it the person you are thinking about having sex with? Are they doing it for you? Do you feel safe? Is there enough trust and communication to make it work?

© Justin Hancock, 2013

One thought on “Ask Bish – How can I have sex without it hurting?

  1. This is an excellent post, and may I add more?

    Sometimes, pain during sex isn’t always a medical issue. I have known women who simply were the wrong man, who didn’t know how to arouse them (even if the woman told him how). With the right man, those same women stopped feeling pain.

    I agree with bish to listen to your body, because maybe it’s trying to tell you that the situation isn’t right.

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