Aunt Vadge: I’m scared sex stuff is going to hurt

Hi Aunt Vadge,

Me and my boyfriend (first one) have been together about four months and we’ve started ‘doing stuff’.

I fully trust and love him and want to do stuff with him but I keep getting so scared it’s going to hurt. He tried to finger me but I couldn’t cope with the thought of potential pain.

I’ve tried to do it myself to get used to it but I can’t get it deep enough, what do I do? 

ge: 18 
Country: U.K.


Dear Petrified,

Welcome to your vagina! Your fear of pain is very natural and most of us have it.

At no point do people say, “Oh, isn’t it great being a virgin, everything that touches my vagina is like magic and feels so amazing!”. It is always “Wow that freakin’ hurt!”

It makes sense for us to be afraid of pain – we should be. But, this fear can impede our sexual investigations somewhat. This part of your learning is the most fraught because this is hard, your vagina is mysterious, and you have no guidebook on how yours is going to react. It’s all new.

Overcoming your fear of pain is only going to be solved by understanding the actions that cause pain, and why that pain is occurring.

Usually, the pain is caused by

  • Your hymen, if it still exists
  • A tightly-clenched pelvic floor muscle
  • Less commonly, by anatomical abnormalities that obstruct the vagina
  • A condition like vulvodynia that causes unexplained pain in the vulva or vagina

We can assume in your case that it is either A or B, with both solvable. Get out a hand mirror, and see if your hymen is still intact.

Read the article about the hymen so you know what you are looking for. You can stretch out your hymen yourself in a pain-free manner (see the bottom of that article for instructions). If your hymen happens to be thick and fibrous (which they sometimes are), you may be better served popping into the doctor to have it quickly (and without too much pain – they can use anaesthetic) opened. A thick, fibrous hymen is unusual, so don’t worry – you can probably stretch it out painlessly at home yourself.

If your pelvic floor muscles are really tightly clenched, you need to learn about your muscles, so you understand how to relax them.

Likely most importantly, you need to learn about how you get turned on. So take penetration off the table for a moment (and with it your fear). Focus on your clitoris. Get your boyfriend involved too, and learn about the wonders of oral sex.

Once your vulva and vagina and citoris are actually turned on, you are wet, and you are all breathless, you will know that your vagina is prepared for penetration.

Your vagina has to want to be penetrated before anything goes in there at all. This cannot be underestimated. Get. Turned. On. The rest will start to make more sense then.

Make your boyfriend promise not to put anything in your vagina at all, and let him investigate your whole vulva – clitoris, labia, all around. Find out what feels good to you, him using his tongue or fingers.

Once you are turned on, your vulva will start to swell with blood, and the erectile tissue inside your body will be activated in much the same way a penis becomes erect. You need to get a lady boner!

Your vagina will produce its own slippery lubrication, when you feel ‘wet’. This whole swelling thing means that the vaginal walls and tissue is actually protected from damage. It has a sort of cushioning effect.

Your vagina is not designed to be used sexually when it is not turned on. That will cause damage and pain and fulfill every single fear you have ever had.

Learn how to get turned on properly, fully, and breathlessly. Then you will understand the feeling of wanting a penis or finger inside your vagina, and your fears will naturally dissipate.

Set aside a couple of hours with your boyfriend, and go through Sex 101, fingering basics, how to perform cunnilingus on a woman, and look over the diagrams in Vag Basics.

It will take some time – these guides are comprehensive – but once you’re done, you’ll understand much better how this whole sex and vagina thing should go.

Being armed with knowledge means the next steps are simply practising with your boyfriend and by yourself. Learn everything you can – none of us are born being good at sex or knowing how to do it.

Getting to know your body and how your sexuality and vagina works is a whole new ball game, one that takes years and years and years and never really ends. You are on the right track. Keep reading and keep practising.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge