Lindsay Kenna sitting on a teal sofa while smiling into the camera


Check out this article to learn about first time tips by Lindsay Kenna, a certified sexologist!

How painful is the first time you have sex? This is a common worry for people who have never had penetrative sex before. And of course it is a worry because there are lots of unknowns around what your first experience could be like. The truth is, everyone’s first time is different and feels different. Some people have shared that they’ve felt discomfort, other people found it enjoyable and some have felt a little of both.

So why is it that some women share that their first time was painful? Let’s explore this!

There is truth that some women experience pain or discomfort when they first have sex and this can be because they are nervous, their body is tensing up, they aren’t using any lubrication and they are not very aroused.

It is completely understandable to be nervous about your first time; it’s a big step to take when dating! However, you can work through some of those nerves by communicating with your partner about sex long before you actually have sex. Topics to talk about could include: protection against STI’s and pregnancy, what ways your body feels pleasure, what helps to increase your arousal, what kind of foreplay you like, and consent.

Consent is an important piece to discuss before having any sexual activity because you want to feel comfortable knowing that you can change your mind, you can stop or you can say no if you decide it’s not something you want to do. Consent happens before you engage in sex, needs to be there during, and can be withdrawn at anytime. Talking about consent is an important conversation to have and being on the same page about it can help decrease some of those first time nerves.

Aside from ways to decrease first time nervousness, it’s important to have an idea of what happens to our bodies when we aren’t comfortable or are feeling scared. In moments like this we often tense up our muscles and some women involuntarily tense their vaginal muscles. If you tense up, there’s a chance that penetrative sex could be a little painful. Something that can help you to not tense up is to make sure you are aroused and enjoying the pleasurable sensations in your body. Kissing, touching, rubbing up against, and exploring each other’s bodies can help to increase arousal in the moment. Making sure that you are feeling calm and comfortable will help you to relax your body.

Using lubrication can be so helpful when it comes to penetration (for both involved!). It helps to decrease discomfort, adds to pleasure and makes penetrative sex better. Do some research about which lube makes the most sense for the two of you and what kind of lube can be used with the type of condom you are using. Have you ever heard the expression wetter is better? Well it definitely applies to using lube during sex because lube can help ease penetration and make it more enjoyable for both people!

Something that many women are curious about when it comes to their first time having sex, is their hymen. The hymen is a thin membrane that stretches across the vagina and often has a ring like appearance or is moon-shaped. For most women, the hymen is never an issue when it comes to menstruation, using tampons, finger penetration or penis penetration. Some women have shared that they felt some discomfort or pain when they first started having sex because of the stretching of this tissue. This discomfort should go away. However, some women can be born with an imperforate hymen, a microperforate hymen or a septate hymen. This doesn’t mean that sexual experiences are off the table, but it might make it a bit more challenging to have penetration –whether with a penis or fingers. In these cases, it would be beneficial to meet with your doctor to discuss any concerns you may have about your vagina, hymen and sexual activity. They can help you to figure out what’s best for your body before you start having sexual experiences.

Lastly, if you are having sex and are finding that it continues to be uncomfortable or it is painful, you might want to connect with a pelvic floor physiotherapist. They can help explore why the pain is happening and give you some exercises to do to relax your pelvic floor. Sex shouldn’t be painful and if it is, please explore your options on eliminating this.

So let’s go back to the idea of sex for the first time being painful. There isn’t a clear cut answer. For some it can be a little painful or uncomfortable, for others it is enjoyable. There are things that can decrease the chances of your first time being painful like working through your nervousness, relaxing your body if you're tensing up, increasing your arousal beforehand, using a good lubrication and understanding your body. Communication with your partner is key! If you feel comfortable talking about sex with them, you will feel more relaxed in having a physical relationship with them.


Want to learn more about Lindsay Kenna?
Lindsay Kenna is a certified Sexologist and a Registered Social Worker. She has been providing individual, relationship and sex therapy for the last 7 years out of a private practice called Bliss Counselling.

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