First Time Sex
October 16, 2019

Does Sex Hurt The First Time?

People say that it hurts the first time you have sex. But is that true? Explore the reasons pain can happen when it’s your first time, and how to reduce the chances of discomfort.
Written by
Megan Healy
Published on
October 16, 2019
Updated on
What's changed?
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There is a prevalent myth that penetrative sex is supposed to hurt the first time - but it doesn’t have to! There are lots of ways to lessen the possibility of pain during sex, including communication, lubrication, and relaxation. 

There are so many different kinds of sex out there, and only you get to decide when is the right time for you and your partner. There’s one no right time or right way to have sex! 

If you are choosing to have penetrative vaginal or anal sex for the first time it might feel like a big deal. After all, our society puts a lot of pressure and expectations on first time sex, especially penetrative types of sex.

While pain does sometimes happen during sex, it’s our body’s way of telling us that something is off - and it’s time to take a step back and reassess. Read on to explore the reasons why sex might be painful when it’s your first time.

Why Sex Might Be Painful The First Time

Uncomfortable Position

Switch it up! Different bodies fit better together in different ways, not to mention feeling better with different speeds or depth of penetration. If something’s not working, move around or use a pillow to get more comfortable. Try going slower, and reducing the depth of penetration.

Need More Lube

Vaginas produce some natural lubrication, but stress, medication, or hormones, can affect lubrication. Not being naturally lubricated doesn’t mean someone isn’t turned on! Even if you have plenty of natural lubrication, keeping a bottle of lube on hand is always a good idea.

If something’s not working, move around or use a pillow to get more comfortable. Try going slower, and reducing the depth of penetration.

An anus doesn’t produce natural lubrication so if you’re having anal sex for the first time you will definitely want a lube on hand. Silicone lube is often preferred for anal because it lasts longer, but water-based is also a good choice for a more gel-like feel.

Nervousness Or Fear

Due to society’s expectations and hoopla around the first time a person has partnered sex, some folks feel a little freaked out, nervous, or stressed the first time they do it. These feelings and lack of relaxation can cause pelvic muscles to tighten, causing pain. 

Communicating with a partner about these feelings can help, as well as taking time to warm up with other activities. If penetrative sex doesn’t feel good in that moment, there’s no reason you have to continue with it, even if you’ve been planning it for that particular night. There are so many different ways to get sexy with a partner, and pausing to cuddle or make out for a while before trying again is always an option!

The Hymen

Some fears around first time vaginal sex stem from misinformation about the hymen, which is a thin tissue at the opening of the vagina. Everyone’s hymen is a little different, and some stretch or tear more easily than others. The hymen can tear while playing sports or just reduce in size over time, so it’s not reliable way to tell if someone has ever had intercourse before. The hymen could also break during first time sex and you might experience some bleeding or might not even notice at all!

Possible Condition Or Infection

Common infections like a yeast infection or vaginosis can cause pain or discomfort during sex, as well as other conditions like vaginismus. Some folks choose to drink alcohol or use numbing creams to mask the pain, but that’s not a good idea, the real cause needs to be dealt with so you can experience pleasure. It’s important to get checked out and diagnosed by a doctor or clinician in order to get the right treatment or pelvic floor physical therapy exercises.

You may want to get comfortable with your own anatomy and the sensation of penetration beforehand using your fingers or a sex toy.

Learn Your Body

If you’re concerned about the possibility of pain during intercourse for the first time, you may want to get comfortable with your own anatomy and the sensation of penetration beforehand using your fingers or a sex toy. Practicing can help you get used to the sensations, help the muscles learn how to respond, and can also increase your emotional comfort around the activity.

Communicate If Sex Is Painful 

If someone is in pain or uncomfortable for any reason at all, it’s time to pause and discuss with their partner how to make sure everyone is feeling good! Penetrative sex is seen in our culture as the “home run” goal of sex, and all other kinds of sex should lead up to it. However, if it doesn’t feel good in that moment, that’s okay! 

Sex can be anything that consenting partners want it to be. It doesn’t have to always lead up to penetration or orgasm; it could just be a way of exploring each others bodies and having fun together, building connection, and making each other feel good. Don’t feel limited, and communicate your needs!

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Megan Healy is a queer sex-positive kink-friendly social justice advocate with a passion for sexual assault crisis counseling, comprehensive sex education, and petting cats. She one day dreams of handing out business cards labeled "Certified Sexpert."

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