Aunt Vadge: Sex hurts and makes me bleed – what am I doing wrong?

Kindest regards Aunt Vadge.

I and my boyfriend have been trying to have sex (it’s our first time, virgins) but we still can’t get it correctly. I bled almost five times differently – he’s got a big boner so I am afraid I might get hurt.

And I think my vagina is too tight since I am a virgin. Do I need to relax and get over my fear or is something wrong with me?

I just can’t understand and I don’t want us to continue like this, please help… we really love each other. Have a good day!

Age 22, Nigeria

Dear Tight,

Big penises can be hard work when you are just starting out with sex, so don’t worry – you seem to be doing just fine. The trick with navigating sex for the first time(s) is to go slow, be super, super gentle, and have fun with it. The reason it must be fun is because if you are scared, your muscles will contract, making sex quite difficult, painful, and damaging to your vagina.

Minor cuts and tears can be encouraged to heal well with a moisturising vulva and vagina-friendly cuts cream.

Check your hymen

You also need to check where your hymen is at. Get a mirror or a camera, and investigate your vagina. See what it looks like, and see if you can see any leftovers of your hymen that may be making penetration more difficult. The hymen is at the entrance to your vagina, and while it is likely to be gone by now at age 22, it could be fibrous and thick, and therefore more difficult to get past. It would also bleed if this was the case.

But, you can bleed without the hymen being present at all, since the penis is big and hard, and your vagina has no idea what’s hit it.

Vaginal tightness

Your vagina is as tight or loose as it will always be before you give birth vaginally and start to age. The vagina is made up of layers of muscles, and these muscles are designed to keep a certain amount of tone (tension) in them all the time. What you need to learn how to do is control these muscles, and learn how to contract and relax them at will. It is not a problem of you being ‘too tight’ per se, but a problem with you not understanding your vagina enough to take control of it. While it isn’t always this simple, the only way you get to know it is to fiddle with it. Put things into it (when you are turned on!).

Solving the sex problem by educating yourselves and talking about it endlessly

You guys need to stop the bleeding and damage, and to do that, you will need to change tack. Please read Sex 101, Fingering Basics for Men, and the cunnilingus article. You both need to read these, because you and your boyfriend are not being successful in your sexual encounters – these guides are pretty long, but they are comprehensive.

It’s great to read them together and talk about what they say so you are both on the same page. Be honest about what things feel like physically and emotionally, because the best sex comes from good communication between partners.

Sex shouldn’t hurt or make you bleed, and learning how to have sex takes lots of practice! Nobody is born knowing how to have sex, and each and every one of us has to go through the process you are now going through. Relax, take your time – you have your whole life to have great sex, so get it right sooner rather than later, and get to the good stuff.


Vaginismus is probably what you would technically call your problem – too-tight vaginal muscles, preventing penetration or making it very difficult. Unless there is another health reason for this, you just have to work through it by making sex fun, relaxing, and making sure you are very turned on. And of course practising!


Dyspareunia is a painful sex problem, the cause of which is unknown – it makes penetration extremely painful, and can be caused by vulvodynia (VVS).

Keep in mind that these are not ‘diseases’ in and of themselves, but descriptions of symptoms. It seems unlikely that you have VVS, but if the pain is excruciating, you need to be examined to rule it out.

Anatomical abnormalities

If there was, say, something actually going wrong outside of your boyfriend’s penis being too big and you being too tense, it could be an anatomical abnormality that you weren’t aware of – these can cause impedance to the penis getting fully into the vagina, and it would definitely hurt, and probably bleed.

If you have used tampons, masturbated with objects inside your vagina, and been examined by a physician during your pap smears or for other reasons, then this is probably not the case, but sometimes first-time sex can show up abnormalities you were born with that otherwise you wouldn’t notice. The most common of these are the longitudinal and transverse septa.

Going forward

It’s important for you not to hurt yourself anymore, so if it hurts or feels uncomfortable, just stop. Try something else that feels good. There is zero value in making sex painful – sex should feel good and be fun, and when it isn’t, it quickly causes a negative response in your body and mind, making it less appealing, causing you to tense up even more, and so on.

You are lucky to have a loving partner to share your first sexual experiences with, and learn with – it makes learning about your body less troublesome when you get to practice with the same person all the time, and you can get to know each other’s bodies and turn-ons, and figure out what you like.

If the problem doesn’t resolve or start to improve after a concerted effort on your part, then it would be good to go and get a professional opinion. Get examined, and see if there is anything actually impeding penetration.

You want to know about it if there is! Also, inspect yourself. Feel around, take a look, see what’s inside. Try masturbating when you are alone, and see if you can turn yourself on and see what happens – does the problem replicate itself with just fingers? A small toy? Just the tip of the penis?

You need to learn how to touch yourself as well as be touched by someone else, as it helps you understand your hidden anatomy, at least by feel. Check out Vag Basics and look at the diagrams to make sure you are on the right angle, in the right hole (yes, some people don’t know!), and that you understand what your invisible anatomy looks like.

Good luck! If you need anything else, please write back. We’d love to hear from you.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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