(Part 1 Before Having Sex)
Losing your virginity can seem scary, and the range of myths surrounding it doesn’t help. In most cases, though, penetrative sex should not be intensely painful, even on your first time. Follow along after the jump to learn how to mentally and physically prepare yourself.
Before Having Sex
Try to feel comfortable with your own sexuality. Most people fear the unknown, and it’s easy to get anxious if you don’t know what’s coming. Feeling tense and nervous will put a damper on the experience, in addition to making your vaginal muscles clenched and more prone to pain. Instead of letting anxiety take over, try to find ways to relax and become educated beforehand so you feel confident in the moment. Here are some strategies to try:
- Read up! Knowing exactly what goes where, what’s normal, and what to expect can help ease a lot of your anxiety about having sex for the first time. Planned Parenthood, The American Academy of Pediatrics and Scarleteen are good places to start.
- Know your body. Understanding your own anatomy can help you feel more confident, especially if your partner is also a virgin. It’s important to figure out what you enjoy, so you can communicate that to your partner and ensure that you both have a good experience. Masturbation can help with this, or you can simply resolve to be communicative while you experiment with your partner — whatever you choose, try to pay attention to how you respond to different touches.
- Approach sex with a positive attitude. When you lose your virginity is a personal choice. If you feel extremely guilty and stressed out at the prospect, maybe it’s better to wait. If you’ve decided that this is what you want, though, then take steps to cast the experience in a positive light. Focus on making it an experience that brings you closer to your partner and gives you an opportunity for personal growth.
Take a trip to the drugstore. Buying a few items ahead of time can make losing your virginity a little easier. Consider picking up:
Condoms, which both help prevent pregnancy and help stop the spread of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). Even if you’re on birth control pills and you trust your partner, using a condom can erase any doubts that might make you anxious in the moment. Don’t worry about buying anything that’s ribbed or extra tricked-out for your first time — just look for the most basic version you can find.
Lubricant, the next-best thing you can buy after condoms because it will ease a lot of the pain and prevent vaginal tearing. If you’re using latex condoms (which most are), do not use an oil-based lubricant, because they can tear the condom. Instead, opt for a
Discuss your concerns with your partner. Having sex with someone you trust can make your first time a lot less nerve-wracking. Your partner should be considerate of your feelings, focused on making sure you have a good experience, and willing to help you through the process. If your potential partner pressures you too much, or if he or she doesn’t seem very concerned about how having sex might affect you, maybe it’s best to reconsider.
Know what your hymen is. The hymen is a thin membrane that partially covers the vaginal opening, and almost every girl is born with one. It starts to wear away over time due to a variety of activities, such as playing sports, tampon usage, menstruation or normal movement. Here’s what you need to know about it as far as losing your virginity is concerned:
- You probably have a partial hymen. If you’re a teenager, chances are that only part of your hymen is left — which is normal, particularly if you’ve already started having periods. If you want to investigate more, you should be able to see your hymen easily with the help of a flashlight and a hand mirror.
- If you do bleed, it shouldn’t be very much. Any bleeding you experience after losing your virginity should not be on the same level as having a period. Instead, it should only be light spotting for a few hours after. Some girls won’t bleed at all.
- Breaking your hymen shouldn’t be overwhelmingly painful. Actually, if you do experience pain during your first time, it’s probably because you’re not used to the feeling of penetration and you’re clenching up your muscles — not because your hymen has nerve endings (spoiler: it doesn’t). The good news is, although you can’t control your hymen tearing, you can control how relaxed you are.
Get acquainted with how you’re angled. If you can help your partner ease into you at the correct angle, you’ll avoid some potentially painful fumbling. Most girls aren’t straight up and down, but instead angled back toward the spine or forward toward the belly button — both directions are normal.
If you regularly use tampons, you’re one step ahead. Take note of how you approach inserting a tampon, and try to recreate that same angle when you’re starting to have penetrative sex.
If you don’t use tampons or haven’t otherwise engaged in any vaginal penetration, it’s probably a good idea to figure it out before you have sex. Try using tampons on your next period, or inserting a finger next time you’re in the shower. Aim toward your lower back; if that doesn’t feel comfortable, shift forward slightly until you find a point that’s comfortable.