The hymen is a thin tissue that may either partially or fully cover the entrance of the vagina. It has an opening that varies in size and can be thick or thin. The more stretchy the hymen is, the less painful the first sex is. If the hymen is not stretchy enough, first sex may hurt a bit and bleed a little. This is the most common source of first-time sex pain for women.
Women are sometimes concerned that their partner’s penis may be too large and that this is why they’re in pain. 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 the cause of pain.
Another 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 but usually can be easily resolved by trying a different sex position.
Other common reasons that women experience pain during or after sex include infection (a sexually transmitted infection, for example), vaginismus, allergic reaction to condoms or lubricants, and menopause.
We can’t guarantee a 100% pain-free first-time sex experience, but we can recommend methods to help minimize the chance of experiencing pain. 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 for all the right reasons.
1. Discuss sex with your partner
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, 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 before
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. You can try taking a steamy shower with your partner, exchanging sexy text messages, or whispering dirty talk gently into each other’s ears. Kissing, touching, oral sex, or manual stimulation are also great.
Although sex has great benefits, foreplay can also enhance the experience and pleasure level for both of you. Every woman is different, so get to know your body to find out what makes you tick.
3. Try different positions
If you’re having sex and it’s painful, different sexual positions 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, let your partner straddle you to allow mutual fondling. Face-to-face contact helps enhance the intimate connection between you and your partner.
- Pillow top. 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 should help control the depth.
- Lean on me. 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 ultimate pleasure.
- Tuck me in. 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 women believe that their first sex should be special and memorable. It is a magical moment that you are bound to remember for a long time, so it’s normal to have high expectations. Some women even have a mental checklist before they decide 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 you are still anxious or nervous about sex, reach out to a counsellor or sex therapist to see what the underlying issues may be.
5. No need to hurry: take it slow
It is vital that you are patient with your partner and with yourself amidst any thoughts clouding your mind telling you how you should feel. 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, have your partner ease himself into you, using his fingers if necessary, 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 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 still the top 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 rose petals, music, and lighting to set the mood for passionate lovemaking.
Sex usually becomes less painful after the first 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 doctor 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 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 them.
- If you think there is an emotional aspect to the pain, speak to a counsellor or sex therapist to address those issues accordingly.