Q. My girlfriend and I have had sex a couple times without a condom and everything was fine. When we tried with a condom, she bled. Could the condom be causing the bleeding?
A. Sexual intercourse involves friction between two people’s bodies. Just the right amount of friction can contribute to people’s physical pleasure during sex. The friction of sexual stimulation on a penis, vulva, or vagina can even lead to orgasm.
Too much friction and sex may feel uncomfortable or painful. Too little friction and it may not feel like much of anything is happening during intercourse. Wearing a condom adds to the friction during sex. Sometimes this added friction is a welcome sensation; other times, it is not. It may be that the condom adds a little too much friction for you and your girlfriend – but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up wearing condoms. After all, condoms are a highly effective means of reducing the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmissible infections, or STIs.
Tight May Be Just Right
Perhaps you and your girlfriend already have a tight genital fit and the condom provides too much friction. Or maybe vaginal intercourse starts out all right with the condom on but it lasts so long or is vigorous in a way that the lubricant on the condom eventually dries up, leaving you with a dry condom and more friction than feels pleasurable. If this is the case, then sex may feel dry and your girlfriend may be more prone to small vaginal tears, which can result in small amounts of bleeding during or after sex. Many women will experience small vaginal cuts or tears at some point in their lives; usually they are not painful and will heal within a few days.
To reduce the risk of vaginal cuts or bleeding, try adding extra water-based lubricant or silicone-based lubricant to the condom after it is already on your penis. You may find that by adding lubricant, sex feels more comfortable and pleasurable and your girlfriend may be less likely to bleed during or after sex. If sex goes on for a long time or is particularly rough or vigorous, make sure to add more lubricant as needed.
You can learn more about different types of lubricants, how to use them and how lubricants can contribute to more pleasurable sex in Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction or Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex.