Q: Is it suppose to hurt the first time you have sex?
A: There is actually no reason why having sex for the first time should hurt. By the time most women have sex for the first time (around age 17 - 18), most will not have an intact hymen, because this tissue begins to naturally degrade once puberty hits. Also, by this time, most women have already placed objects into the vagina, such as tampons or fingers. Having sex is really no different than placing other objects into the vagina.
One way to tell what sex will feel like is to insert 3 fingers into the vagina, as shown in this image (warning: image is NSFW). This is the same as the width of an average penis. If doing so doesn't hurt, then it likely won't hurt having sex either. If this does hurt, then a woman can practice with 1 - 2 fingers until she has relaxed the tissues of the vagina enough to allow for easy, 3-finger penetration. A woman can also practice with a dildo beforehand as well. They even make dildo training kits that go from very small dildos to normal-sized dildos, so that a woman can train her vagina to be more comfortable with penetration. If a woman has practiced penetrating herself beforehand, then it's unlikely that having sex for the first time will hurt at all.
One thing that can make sex hurt the first time, though, is anxiety. If a woman is especially anxious when having sex, she may unconsciously tighten the muscles of the vagina, causing vaginismus. This can make penetration painful. The best thing to do in this case is to relax, take things slow, and only penetrate the vagina when you feel comfortable doing so. Over time, having sex with become a more relaxed experience, and this will allow the vaginal muscles to relax as well.
Q: The first time I had sex it was so painful I had to stop. And then it literally took a year for it to stop hurting because for some reason during sex my stomach would hurt really badly. And I know they say the more aroused you are the less it does that but I feel as though I was. That pain in my stomach went away after a year of sex, but for example my friend just lost her virginity and she has never felt pain or discomfort. She said it hurt for the first 5 seconds but that was it. In fact no one I've talked to has ever had the pain in their stomach like you have to go to the bathroom. What causes that?
A: Pain during sex can be caused by many different factors, but one of the most common (especially for younger women) is vaginismus. This is a condition in which the muscles around the vagina tighten so much that vaginal penetration is difficult and extremely painful. This is most often caused by anxiety. The muscles contractions are completely involuntary, so it’s not as if a women can just consciously try to “relax” the muscles. It usually takes a long time, and sometimes some counseling or “dilator” tools, for a woman with vaginismus to train her body to become relaxed during sex.
Unfortunately, the pain caused by vaginismus usually reinforces the disorder, because pain during sex can cause increased anxiety about having sex. This can make this disorder long-lasting and difficult to recover from without some type of professional treatment. However, with the right counselor or gynecologist, the prognosis for treating vaginismus is very good, with most women only requiring a few months of treatment to recover from the disorder.
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Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.