MSP Sex Q&A: Why does sex hurt for my girlfriend? Does sex hurt the first time?

couple-talking-in-the-park-photo-by-cayusa-flickr

Question:  I have a new girlfriend and she’s a virgin and has never been touched. Each time I try to touch her she says it hurts but she wants me to do it anyway. But I dont want to hurt her. How can i make her like it?Answer: When you say that your girlfriend is a virgin and has not been “touched”, and that you are trying to “touch” her, I am guessing that you mean that she has not yet had vaginal penetration/intercourse and that you and she are attempting some form of vaginal penetration (e.g., putting your fingers or penis inside her vagina). Is this correct? (If I am not understanding your question correctly, please let me know).

If, however, this is what you are asking, then I hope this information will be helpful to you and to her. Since this is a new sexual relationship – and her first time being sexual with someone in these ways – your girlfriend might find it helpful to spend time learning about sex. This can help both her and you, as it can help you both to feel more relaxed and prepared as you attempt to be sexual with each other. You did not mention your age, but if you and she are relatively young, then you may find it helpful to read S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College. If you are slightly older (say, older than 20 or 21) then you might prefer to read my fun new book, Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure & Satisfaction, which contains tons of tips and techniques for more comfortable, pleasurable (and possibly orgasmic!) sex.

Learning about sex is helpful for several reasons. For one, books that highlight accurate information about our bodies and sexuality can provide longer, more detailed information about why sex sometimes hurt, painful sex conditions (such as vaginismus or vulvodynia that can make sex feel painful or impossible for women). Learning about sex can also help both women and men to feel more relaxed about their bodies and when women feel relaxed and ready to have sex, then sex may feel more comfortable and pleasurable (that’s because as a woman’s body relaxes, her muscles also relax which can make vaginal penetration for comfortable for her).

Learning about sex together also gives the two of you opportunities to talk about your ideas, expectations, concerns, and feelings related to sex. It might make it easier for you both to talk about to what extent you both feel ready to have sex with each other and why you want to have sex with each other. For example, sometimes people worry that if they don’t have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend, that their partner will break up with them. Other times, they have sex out of loneliness, or because they are curious about what it feels like to have sex, or because they think it will make them a “grown up” or in order to become pregnant or fit in with their friends, or because they feel as though they are in love.

Spend time talking, too, about ways to reduce her and your worries about having sex. For example, if you are trying to have intercourse (penis in the vagina), have you talked about ways to reduce the risk of pregnancy, such as birth control methods like condoms or the birth control pill? Has she had a gynecological exam, which is recommended for women who are thinking about becoming sexually active? If you have had sex before, or if either of you have had oral sex, anal sex or vaginal sex, have you both been tested for sexually transmissible infections (STIs, also called STDs)?

Finally, once you have learned about sex and talked about your feelings and thoughts related to being sexual together, there are other – more physical – ways to make sex more comfortable/less painful. You can try using a water-based or silicone-based lubricant (I like Good Clean Love)  to make sex feel more comfortable. If you are using condoms, the lubricant should be applied to the outside of the condom once it is already on your penis. If you are not using condoms for intercourse, then the lubricant would be applied to your penis. Whether or not you are using condoms, you can also apply lubricant to her vaginal opening. If you are not putting your penis in her vagina, but you are putting your fingers inside her vagina (called “fingering”), then lubricant can be applied to your fingers.

If you are having vaginal intercourse, she could try the Woman-on-Top position which would allow her to have more control over the depth of vaginal penetration (e.g., how deep your penis goes inside her vagina) and at what pace/rhythm. This may help her to feel as though she has more control over what sex feels like.

Also, try spending a long time in foreplay (perhaps at least 20 minutes, but maybe even longer, like 45 minutes) before trying to have penetration/intercourse. Try kissing each other and touching each other in ways that feel pleasurable to her, as this can help to build her arousal and encourage natural vaginal lubrication, which can make sex feel better and less painful for her. If sex continues to hurt her, or if the pain during intercourse is severe, she should check in with her healthcare provider; she and you can also learn more about vulvovaginal pain and a condition called vulvodynia through the web site of the National Vulvodynia Association.

The first time that a woman has sex, it often hurts or feels uncomfortable, and is sometimes even painful. However, it is less common for it to be very painful for a woman to have sex, and pain is something that people should always talk to their healthcare providers about. You are wise to take things slowly, to seek out information, and to trust your instinct and avoid doing anything that would hurt your girlfriend or cause her pain, even if she is asking to be touched. Perhaps over time, as you two continue to learn about sex, learn how to talk about it, and as she checks in with a healthcare provider to make sure that she doesn’t not have any physical conditions or medical problems that might be putting her at risk for pain, sex may come to feel more comfortable and enjoyable. Thank you for your question.

Learn more in Dr. Herbenick’s book, Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure & Satisfaction, and follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor

[Photo by Cayusa and available via their Flickr photostream.]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.

  • jboy

    Jus stick it in and shell take the pain the next thing you know she won’t want you to stop 4get the 4play jus get down to business no waman wants a man that bullshits around

  • http://none jboy

    Jus stick it in and shell take the pain the next thing you know she won’t want you to stop 4get the 4play jus get down to business no waman wants a man that bullshits around

  • Debby

    I suspect the above comment is for shock-value only, but it’s worth mentioning of course that women – like men – do not enjoy “taking the pain”. The suggestion to just “stick it in” in spite of a partner’s pain is, of course, neither kind nor ethical. And of course nonconsensual sex isn’t just “bad sex” – it’s sexual assault and potentially rape.

  • Debby

    I suspect the above comment is for shock-value only, but it’s worth mentioning of course that women – like men – do not enjoy “taking the pain”. The suggestion to just “stick it in” in spite of a partner’s pain is, of course, neither kind nor ethical. And of course nonconsensual sex isn’t just “bad sex” – it’s sexual assault and potentially rape.

  • http://yahoo.com/ Leonard

    what you two have going for you is the lack of good sexual information. I would suspect that there is no foreplay, (the hugging,touching and kissing in your lovemaking that is needed to get her vagina wet). And so what you have is a dry penis and a dry vagina that are stroking each other. And your hurried attempt to get your coupling over with as soon as possible is going to be more painful for her than for you. For the first time and perhaps even with your ongoing penile-vaginal-stroking a little KY-Jelly will take the pain out of your lovemaking, and that pain can be turned into a loving sexual togetherness.

  • http://yahoo.com Leonard

    what you two have going for you is the lack of good sexual information. I would suspect that there is no foreplay, (the hugging,touching and kissing in your lovemaking that is needed to get her vagina wet). And so what you have is a dry penis and a dry vagina that are stroking each other. And your hurried attempt to get your coupling over with as soon as possible is going to be more painful for her than for you. For the first time and perhaps even with your ongoing penile-vaginal-stroking a little KY-Jelly will take the pain out of your lovemaking, and that pain can be turned into a loving sexual togetherness.

  • Bella

    I would suggest some sensual foreplay. jboy is obviously either joking or ignorant when it comes to what women want. Try with just your fingers and some lube first. Like the ky warming sensation. Maybe even some oral. Then go t o two fingers. You can have her stroking her clit to heighten sexual arousal.

    Just remember to take it gentle and slow with her, especially because your her first partner she’s been sexually active with.

    Ive also heard that sometimes it just takes a while for a woman to get used to (and get aroused by) sex.

  • Bella

    I would suggest some sensual foreplay. jboy is obviously either joking or ignorant when it comes to what women want. Try with just your fingers and some lube first. Like the ky warming sensation. Maybe even some oral. Then go t o two fingers. You can have her stroking her clit to heighten sexual arousal.

    Just remember to take it gentle and slow with her, especially because your her first partner she’s been sexually active with.

    Ive also heard that sometimes it just takes a while for a woman to get used to (and get aroused by) sex.

  • Debby

    Great comments! And yes, it can often take women (and men) time to become used to and aroused by sexual stimulation. That is true when starting to be sexual as a teenager or young adult and it is also often true as people age and get new partners. It can take time to feel comfortable with a new partner and to relax enough to enjoy sex. Time, communication and making sure that you are going at a pace that is comfortable for both of you are helpful.

  • Debby

    Great comments! And yes, it can often take women (and men) time to become used to and aroused by sexual stimulation. That is true when starting to be sexual as a teenager or young adult and it is also often true as people age and get new partners. It can take time to feel comfortable with a new partner and to relax enough to enjoy sex. Time, communication and making sure that you are going at a pace that is comfortable for both of you are helpful.

  • Angie

    The reason she says it hurts is because she has never done it before. The reason it feels uncomforable is because there is a thin layer if skin covering her vagina. the first time you have sex she may bleed a little bit. From past experience, she will feel better after the 2nd or 3rd time you make love.

  • Angie

    The reason she says it hurts is because she has never done it before. The reason it feels uncomforable is because there is a thin layer if skin covering her vagina. the first time you have sex she may bleed a little bit. From past experience, she will feel better after the 2nd or 3rd time you make love.

  • Ranita

    Well, it hurts the first time because there’s a hymen, once it gets broken, women bleed, that’s why it hurts.
    It won’t hurt forever! =)

  • Ranita

    Well, it hurts the first time because there’s a hymen, once it gets broken, women bleed, that’s why it hurts.
    It won’t hurt forever! =)

  • Franco

    Tried the KY Warming sensations and it hurt like hell. It felt like an UTI. Just a warning.

  • Franco

    Tried the KY Warming sensations and it hurt like hell. It felt like an UTI. Just a warning.

  • Ryan

    Same as mentioned by Franco the KY Warming Sensation Lube caused burning for my wife and we no longer use that. As far as lube goes, I would recommend water based if you are using a condom but if she is taking the pill, I would highly recommend pure grape seed oil. It is VERY healthy for damaged skin (Often Used in Massage Therapy)and can also be ingested (Very light taste) and since you WILL be technically damaging some skin in there, it is great + it is very slick and should provide for a much less painful penetration. The way I see it Grape Seed Oil is good to ingest and practically bathe in :) ***** FIVE STARS!

    As for the comment by JBOY… What a FU**ing reject. Don’t ever force it into a girl/woman. They don’t like it like that especially if it hurts. You will ruin your chances of sleeping with her again and will hurt her. A woman will sometimes like it rough but only after you have been going at it tenderly for a while. Use your best judgement and gradually increase force as you go and depending on her reactions to it. Good Luck!

  • Ryan

    Same as mentioned by Franco the KY Warming Sensation Lube caused burning for my wife and we no longer use that. As far as lube goes, I would recommend water based if you are using a condom but if she is taking the pill, I would highly recommend pure grape seed oil. It is VERY healthy for damaged skin (Often Used in Massage Therapy)and can also be ingested (Very light taste) and since you WILL be technically damaging some skin in there, it is great + it is very slick and should provide for a much less painful penetration. The way I see it Grape Seed Oil is good to ingest and practically bathe in :) ***** FIVE STARS!

    As for the comment by JBOY… What a FU**ing reject. Don’t ever force it into a girl/woman. They don’t like it like that especially if it hurts. You will ruin your chances of sleeping with her again and will hurt her. A woman will sometimes like it rough but only after you have been going at it tenderly for a while. Use your best judgement and gradually increase force as you go and depending on her reactions to it. Good Luck!

  • bill

    At what age can you have sex (how young)?

  • bill

    At what age can you have sex (how young)?

  • gregory

    My girlfriend is a virgin i’am also. I have talk to her about having sex and she agrees she wants to have sex and i have been with her almost a year. and i want to pleasure her I also don’t want to hurt as much as possible. any ideas ?

  • ml78

    my girlfriend has severe pain after intercourse only since our dirst daughter was born many years ago.I have been telling her to get medical help but she starts pretending nothings wrong.no we don't have sex very often maybe once a month.only for 2 minutes as she can't handle any more than that and i'm scared to even go any longer.it's a very rushed act.nothing like the sex i'm used to.she also does not really fancy oral stim.she tries to do other things to me and down play the pain but i can tell.i don't want to hurt her.i just want to know that this is a medical thing and that it's not that she just doesn't like sex with me.i'm very confused and gaining insecurity.Why would she not get fixed? or maybe there is no fix??

  • http://www.elevencreations.com Adult Shop Australia

    Well, it will only hurts for the first time, once it gets a hang of it, you will be replaced by pleasure.
    It won't hurt forever! =)

  • mrsghalib

    Hi. I've been having the same problems whilst trying to be intimate with my husband. As soon as he tries to penetrate me it really hurts and I end up crying. We've tried twice and both times he stopped because of the immense pain I feel. Is there ANY way I can make it less painful?

  • Namebi

    umm ok get the fuck over it wocares do it deep and hard adn do not stoppp

  • Nick

    Ok.. My girlfriend and I are virgins. We've been resently having sex and my girlfriend is always hurting. We're using lube, in hopes that it'll make it easier, but sometimes it stings for her.. She's always sore after wards and it continues onto the next day.. I'm also nervous that I'm too big for her and that I'm the cause in her hurting.. Do you have any suggestions for me??

  • Anthoneylver31

    i have had sex like 10 times and it still hurts for me and i have no idea what to do to make it not hurt :(

  • Steve

    the age of consent just depends on the state you live in, check you state laws to see the legal age

  • AmorDelBueno

    same here ive had sex numerous times and it still hurts…

  • AmorDelBueno

    I have the same problem….

  • nightwolf221

    jboy we all kno that u are some regect so mabey u should have a boy ''just shove it in and i could see what it feels like

  • Tinahh<3

    Yo dude,, SHES TIGHT!
    sometimes you just have to work with that and yes its going to hurt til shes used to it.
    try turning her on more and she wont be AS tight and she'll produce more natural lube.

  • Jenniferholli-titans

    ok first off your not to big for her the only reason it's hurting her is because a girl has a thin laier of skin at the opaning of her vagina and you'r ither strething/tore it. dont be scared becaus this also happend to me the first time i had sex with my boyfiend. so your not to big your noe the problem almost all girls get pain and somtime a little blood but dont worry itll get better in time

    good luck

  • Superawesomekid

    u can have sex when u r bout 18. its legal so don’t be afraid but u need to wear condoms. I accidently got pregnant with my bf sucking my vagina and doin sexaul intercourse.(penis into vagina*

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  • Coryadiamond

    Um ok So i have a bew gf and she has had sex beofre and so have u but im bigger then her ex’s and it hurts her when we have sex and we’ve tried but have had to stop because it hirts so much do you know why?