Does Sex Hurt the First Time? 6 Tips for First-Time Sex Without Pain

    Does Sex Hurt the First Time? 6 Tips for First-Time Sex Without Pain
    Updated 07 February 2023 |
    Published 20 March 2019
    Fact Checked
    Dr. Iryna Ilyich
    Reviewed by Dr. Iryna Ilyich, Obstetrician and gynecologist, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania
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    Some people experience pain when they have sex for the first time, but that’s not always the case. There are lots of ways to help make your first time more comfortable and pain-free. 

    Does it hurt the first time you have sex?

    If you experience pain during penetrative sex, it could be for a variety of reasons. If your hymen is still intact, you may experience pain and a bit of bleeding as it stretches during intercourse. 

    The hymen is a thin, ring-like membrane that may either partially or fully surround the entrance of the vagina. It has an opening that varies in size and can be thick or thin. The more stretchy your hymen is, the less painful first-time sex is likely to be. If your hymen is not as stretchy, first-time sex may hurt and/or bleed a little. This is the most common source of first-time sex pain.

    If you’re concerned that your partner’s penis may be too large and that this will hurt, try not to worry. Although this is possible, it’s very rare. The average penis size is about five to seven inches long when erect, and the vagina is typically between three and seven inches long. The vagina can stretch high and wide during sex and childbirth, so a too-large penis is usually not a cause of pain. 

    One common cause of pain or discomfort is when the penis is deep in the vagina and makes contact with the cervix. This may feel more uncomfortable than painful, and you can usually resolve it by trying a different sex position.

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    How to have first-time sex without pain

    There is no way to guarantee a completely pain-free first-time sex experience, but there are things you can try. Having a partner who is willing to go slow, be patient and encouraging, and engage in steamy foreplay is a great way to ensure a positive first-time experience. There are a variety of healthy sex tips out there, and we’ve put together six of the best to help make your first time memorable.

    1. Discuss sex with your partner

    Don’t be afraid to express any concerns you have, and be honest and open with your partner. You will be sharing your body with them after all, so you have every right to express how that makes you feel. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Calmly and honestly let your partner know exactly how you feel. Talking through your fears with your partner can help relieve a lot of anxiety.

    2. Warm up beforehand

    Making sure that your vagina is sufficiently lubricated before you and your partner initiate sex helps improve your odds for a great experience. Lots of foreplay can help you relax, feel more comfortable, and experience less first-time sex pain.

    Becoming aroused before you begin intercourse should increase lubrication in the vagina and reduce the chance of pain associated with friction. Kissing, touching, oral sex, and manual stimulation can be helpful. Avoid sudden movements; let it be slow and gentle.

    Although sex has great benefits, foreplay can also enhance the experience and pleasure level for both of you. Everyone is different, so get to know your body to find out what you like most. 

    3. Try different positions

    If you’re having sex and it’s painful, a different position may help ease the pain. Here are some options to try:

    • Classic missionary

    First-timers may prefer to be on top in order to be in control of their movements. Instead of widening your legs, you can also let your partner straddle you. Face-to-face contact can help enhance the intimate connection between you and your partner.

    • Use a pillow

    Place a pillow beneath your pelvic area for additional support. Bend your knees, raise your pelvis in the air, and open your legs wide. If you experience pain with deep penetration, this position can help control the depth.

    • Standing

    Lean against a surface like a wall or table and face your partner. Grasp their butt cheeks and wrap your legs around for support. This position allows you to rub your clitoris against your partner for increased pleasure.

    • On your side/spooning

    For this position, you can either lie face to face or with your back against your partner’s front (like spooning). Either position allows you to control the depth and pace.

    4. Set realistic expectations

    Many people want their first time to be special and memorable, and it’s normal to have high expectations. Some people even have a mental checklist to help decide when they’re ready and plan where and when it will happen. These are all reasonable things to do, but it’s equally important to set realistic expectations. Be fair to yourself and your partner, and try not to expect an unrealistic fantasy only found in the movies. If you find that your nervousness about sex is becoming overwhelming, you can reach out to a counselor or sex therapist to see what the underlying issues may be.

    5. No need to hurry: take it slow

    Be patient with your partner and with yourself, and try not to take any thoughts about how you should feel too seriously. You may have expectations of yourself, your partner, and how things should progress, but take a minute to relax. Allow plenty of time to get aroused. Tell your partner where and when to touch you. Go slow, and when you’re both ready, your partner can ease into you, using their fingers to press in.

    Find a pace and rhythm that suits you both. There’s no need to rush.

    6. Location matters: make sure you feel relaxed

    Choosing the right place to have sex for the first time is a good first step in the planning process. It should be a place where you can both feel relaxed and comfortable and where you will be alone for at least a few hours. It should be hassle-free, so outside or in the car is probably not ideal.

    A bed is a classic go-to place for lovemaking. It’s also nice to have access to basic amenities, where you can control the temperature, have enough space for yourself, and use the bathroom. Feel free to add personal touches like music and lighting to set the mood.

    Is first-time sex pain a one-time thing?

    If you experience pain during your first time, it usually becomes less painful with time, as your hymen continues to stretch and your body gets accustomed to it. You can also use your fingers to stretch your hymen tissue if that is the source of your pain. If you find that sex is still quite painful after a few tries, and you’re still experiencing bleeding, get in touch with your health care provider to find the cause and treat it accordingly.

    Depending on your symptoms, here are a few things they might recommend:

    • If you have unusual discharge, soreness, and/or itchiness, they may treat you for thrush or an infection.
    • If you experience dryness, they may recommend a water-based lubricant.
    • If you notice a reaction when using certain products or substances that come in contact with your vagina, you likely have an allergy and should avoid using those products.
    • If you think there is an emotional aspect to the pain, a sex therapist can help you address those issues.
    History of updates
    Current version (07 February 2023)
    Reviewed by Dr. Iryna Ilyich, Obstetrician and gynecologist, medical advisor, Flo Health Inc., Lithuania
    Published (20 March 2019)
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