November 29, 2010

Q&A: Virginity And Overcoming Uncomfortable Sex

A female reader asks about having sex for the first time with some uncomfortable results. What can she do to overcome the anxiety around having sex?

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Question: I’m a virgin, but my boyfriend isn’t. I thought I was ready to sleep with him, but when we tried, as much as he tried to relax me and give me lots of foreplay, it was so uncomfortable that I actually tried to ignore what was happening. At this point I am dreading the thought of my boyfriend touching me. Am I over-reacting?

The realities of having vaginal intercourse for the first time hardly ever match the romanticized Hollywood versions of sex. In fact, you are not alone in your experience of feeling like you’re ready for sex, trying to have it, and then finding that your body just won’t cooperate.

Medical or Psychological Reasons

Sometimes there are medical or physiological reasons why vaginal intercourse may feel difficult or even impossible for a woman.

Women who are thinking about becoming sexually active would be well advised to check in with a healthcare provider for a gynecological exam, and this might be a good time for you to do so.

That way, not only can you ask your healthcare provider whether you have any personal medical issues that may be making it difficult or uncomfortable for you to have sex, but you can also ask your healthcare provider any questions that you may have about pregnancy, birth control, or sexually transmissible infections – also called STIs.

Feeling Comfortable

It’s also important to note that just because you were recently feeling ready to have sex with your boyfriend, doesn’t mean that you have to feel ready now. If you are dreading the thought of him touching you now, it is probably worth examining that. You might ask yourself what you need to feel more comfortable with him, whether or not you have sex, and how you are about your relationship together.

Couples – even those that have been together for a very long time – sometimes find that their feelings for each other, and those related to sex, ebb and flow. It’s okay to feel one way today and another way tomorrow. Spend some time paying attention to your feelings and communicate with him about issues that are important to you.

Communicate With Your Partner

This might also be a good time to share feelings and thoughts with each other about birth control, condoms, STIs, personal values related to sex, as well as your expectations for sex, and how you think your relationship might change when you have sex together.

When you decide that you are ready to try to have sex again – whether it is with him or someone else – feeling relaxed and spending time in foreplay, as you did, and communicating with each other are indeed key features of comfortable sex. Depending on how your bodies fit together, you may find that using a personal lubricant can ease penetration as well.

Next Question: I Only Get Sexually Turned On When I’ve Been Drinking

I can only get sexually turned on if I have been drinking. Otherwise I feel too nervous to enjoy sex and turn down my boyfriend’s advances. What can I do?

Read Dr. Debby Herbenick’s response.

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