MSP Sex Q&A: Why Does Skin Cover My Vagina? It Hurts to Have Sex!

Question:
I am a almost 22 year old woman and I have some questions I don’t know who to ask. I have what I call extra skin (meaning skin that goes half way over the hole where I have sex) and when I have sex it hurts bad. I also have a really low sex drive.

Answer:
It can take a lot of courage to write to someone you don’t know about personal matters such as your body or your sexuality, so thank you for trusting me with your question. Most girls are born with a thin layer of tissue (called the “hymen”) that partially covers the vagina. In some girls, the vagina is more completely covered than other girls, and this can cause discomfort or pain when trying to have sexual intercourse. This is something that you should make an appointment to talk with a healthcare provider about. You can find a healthcare provider at a local Planned Parenthood clinic or, if you are a college student, then perhaps you can make an appointment for a gynecological exam at your campus health center.

This is definitely something that I would encourage you to have looked at by a healthcare provider, particularly because all sexually active women should have a gynecological exam (also called a “pelvic exam”) at least once per year anyway – just to  make sure that your sexual and reproductive health are in good shape, as well as to ask any questions that you might have about effective ways to prevent pregnancy or to reduce your risk of sexually transmissible infections (STI). You can learn more about preventing pregnancy and STI here.

In terms of your sex drive, you may find that once you get the “extra skin” issue checked out and addressed by your healthcare provider, that you may soon develop more of an interest in sex if it begins to feel more comfortale or pleasurable. You might find a book such as For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy by Dr. Lonnie Barbach to be helpful as you work on communicating your needs to your partner, as well as learning how to feel comfortable expressing to your partner both when you do and when you do not want to have sex. Finally, the importance of a healthy lifestyle when it comes to sexuality cannot be underestimated (e.g., exercise, getting enough sleep, avoiding cigarette smoking, and eating a diet that has plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains).

If you have a question about sex, love, dating, relationships, pleasure, orgasm, tips, techniques, positions or sex terms you’ve heard but don’t understand, email me at DrDebby@mysexprofessor.com. Your confidentiality will be respected.

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.