Love hurts - really!


Love hurts - really!


your avatar   Skiv (18 year-old woman)

I'm a newly 'deflowered' virgin; I have had sex about 5 times. I'm 18, no physical problems in the past or anything. Nothing runs in the family, no diseases, only one partner. Dunno what else you need.

Whenever I have sex with my boyfriend it hurts. No matter how much foreplay or anything. He is very gentle and slow, but until after he is in it hurts almost as much as when I was a virgin. To make things worse even after that pain goes away it hurts when he is pushing in all the way. The last half inch or so hurts SOMETHING and it even creates a small stinging feeling at the inside of my anus. Is this just normal until I get used to this, or is there something I can do to stop it?


    Robert W. Birch, Ph.D., ACS Certified Sexologist

Since the questions I see are not dated, I do not know how long it has been since this concern was expressed. I sincerely hope that patience, time or perhaps professional help has solved this problem of painful intercourse.

Most women get through the initial discomfort of intercourse within a few episodes, but others don't - there can be a number of reason for this. The most obvious would be lack of arousal (which does not seem to be the case here). When a woman becomes aroused, her genitals prepare for penetration. The outer lips swell a bit and separate. Lubrication ("transudate") emerges from the first inch inside the vagina, eventually seeping out and lubricating the entire genital area. There is some swelling of the tissue that surrounds the vaginal opening, but the opening itself opens. The vagina canal itself opens and lengthens a little. The woman's uterus pulls up, getting the cervix out of the way of the trusting penis. If a woman is not aroused, penetration may be difficult and painful, and she is likely to feel that the penis is bumping into something (most likely her cervix).

Another potential problem is one that is not often talked of - Incompatible genital size. Some penises are just too big for some vaginas. Men obsess about having bigger penises and some women are "size queens" and proclaim "the bigger the better." However, sex therapists typically hear more women complaining about a penis that is too big than about one that is too small. I have heard women who are unsympathetic to their smaller sisters, say that a vagina will stretch to fit any penis and point to child birth as evidence of the elasticity. I would be quick to counter, noting that most women do not think of child birth as pain free! Maybe some penises are unusually big and some vaginas are unusually small, but if it is one or both, intercourse can be painful even with high arousal.

It can happen; however, that in response to the initial pain of first intercourse, a woman begins to unconsciously tighten. This is almost a reflex, not unlike the eye blink in response to anticipate penetration/pain. Thus, even though there is high arousal and a reasonably-sized erection, if a woman reflexively tightens her vaginal muscles to avoid pain, the result will be pain. A chain reaction can then be established. Pain is anticipated and the woman tightens. Pain is experienced and the fear is reinforced. On the next encounter she will tighten again in anticipation of the pain. This is call "vaginismus" and well over 85% of the cases are treated successfully by a qualified sex therapist.

Women with vaginismus often avoid using tampons, for even the insertion of these cause pain. Women with vaginismus often avoid getting their annual pelvic exam or going to a gynecologist with other "female" concerns. The idea of a pelvic exam is too frightening. It is usually easier for a woman with vaginismus to begin talking to a sex therapist and then, when the time is right, the therapist will set up a consulting relationship with a medical practitioner. A physician can rule out any physical problems (which can be quite reassuring), but usually the treatment is carried out with a mental health professional trained in the evaluation and treatment of sexual concerns.

Women with vaginismus can usually feel themselves tighten up. Gynecologists have reported that they can even see the vaginal opening tighten when approach for the examination.

Women searching for a qualified sex therapist should go to the web site of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

Bob Birch

Robert W. Birch, Ph.D., is a retired sex therapist, now identifying himself as a sexologist and adult sexuality educator. He now devotes his time to writing educational and self-help books for adults.For more information visit:


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