Aunt Vadge: what should I expect from first-time sex?

First time sex

Dear Aunt Vadge,

I’m 16 and my boyfriend just turned 18. I love him, we discussed it, and we are ready to have sex. I’m a virgin and he’s not, but he only did it with one other girl.  

  1. We are going to wear protection. We have given each other oral and stuff, but my main concern is whether or not I can get pregnant.
  2. Also about my ‘cherry popping’ and shaved vagina?
  3. He has a lot of pubic hair, but I don’t know if I should of not.
  4. I’m scared that something might go wrong with my vagina, like what if I’m not tight or too tight.

I’m ready. but afraid of the consequences. Please help!



Dear Scared,

Thank you so much for your email. Having sex for the first time can indeed be very scary! There are so many things you just don’t know until you try them.

To answer your questions:

Not getting pregnant

You are very smart to be thinking ahead of time about protection – congratulations. If you use a condom properly (with lube), then you can’t get pregnant, since it is a physical barrier between you and him.

The best idea for you would be to go to the pharmacy and buy a 6-pack of condoms (so you have some spare in case you break or drop one – it happens all the time) and a tube of KY Jelly. Way before you have sex, get your boyfriend to practice putting on a condom properly – that is, hold the tip so all the air is pushed out, then roll the condom all the way down the erect penis to the base. All the way rolled out. It should fit snugly, not be loose, and not be too small. You should watch this happen, because you need to learn how to do this too – putting condoms on properly is your job too. Watch a YouTube video if you are confused.

There are a lot of varieties of condom, so aim for a good brand, without spermicide (it’s bad for your vagina). With or without lube is up to you, but you still need the KY Jelly (or other water-based lubricant – see here for the best lube for the job). This protects you from sexually transmitted infections as well as unwanted pregnancy. Get good at condoms. They will save you a lot of panicking.

Doing it

When you are ready to have sex, make the occasion, and give yourselves a bit of time. A couple of hours should be plenty. Have the condom ready, with the top of one condom packet torn open so you can quickly get the condom out, and the tube of lube, lid off, next to you in arm’s reach. Taking a long time to put on a condom can sometimes interrupt the moment to the point of the man getting a soft penis, making sex impossible. You want it to be as seamless as possible, but even after decades of practice things still go awry, so don’t worry about that! It all adds to the fun.

You can also put the condom on before you actually want to put his penis inside your vagina, so long as his penis stays hard, since it doesn’t have to be the second before penetration. Preparation doesn’t go astray.

Make out for as long as you want to, pay attention to each other’s bodies, doing oral sex, touching each other, and kissing all over. Make sure you are really turned on, your vagina and body is all wet and happy, and his penis is very hard and happy. Don’t skimp on getting horny – sex itself won’t make you horny if you are not ready, but it will hurt and be uncomfortable – get wet and hot first.

Then, when you feel like it’s time, with the condom on, squirt a blob of lube into your hand, and then rub it all over his penis and some onto the whole outside of your vulva (including your clitoris), and poke a little bit into the entrance of your vagina. You don’t want any catching or rubber burn on your first time. You will need to know what to feel for, so later if it starts to feel a bit dry (condoms are very drying), add more lube. If you start to feel it getting hot down there, add more lube.

Water-based lube is handy, since you can actually spit into your hand and then rub it onto the ‘old’ lube, and it goes watery again. Over-lubing can cause the whole area to be too sloppy for friction, so be judicious with your lube application. More is better when you are learning, however.

Condom and lube on, ask your boyfriend to slowly insert his fully hard penis into the very entrance of your vagina (soft or semi-soft penises do not belong inside vaginas), little by little. Hold it, and then when you feel ready, let him put it in a little bit more. Breathe, try to relax, and without him pumping away at you, just let his penis sit inside your vagina doing nothing at all. He is going to want to move, to thrust, but he just has to hold his horses (this will feel very good for him). You can move your hips a bit if you feel comfortable. Take this very slow.

When you are adjusted to the feeling of his penis in your vagina, and it feels good (if it hurts, you may need to stop and try again later), you can both start to move around a little bit. Try out different (small) movements – in, out, side-to-side. Depending on the size of his penis, and the size of your vagina, sex can feel all kinds of different things, which you both need to adjust to as necessary – if he has a really long penis or you have a small vagina, it may bump on your cervix, for example, which will be uncomfortable and he will need to back off.

Why pubic hair is great

A penis in your vagina doesn’t always feel that exciting, but added with clitoral stimulation makes sex sexy, so if you are on your back (missionary) then let his body be very close to yours – your clitoris wants to be rubbing against his body, usually the pubic mound or even his stomach, depending on how far his penis is inside of you. That’s where those pubic hairs come into their own – they add a protective layer to your bodies so when you bump and grind, there is no nasty scratchy friction.

Pubic hair is like a lovely soft cushion, and I would recommend that you keep your pubic hair until further notice – it really makes sexual activities more pleasurable (as opposed to shaving, which makes stubble which can be very uncomfortable during sex). You can trim it if you want to, but at this stage, your pubes are beautiful and functional. Keep ’em.


It is unlikely that you will orgasm during your first p-in-v sexual encounter, but it’s sure not impossible. Don’t worry about that for now – it usually takes women a lot longer to orgasm than guys, and you need to practice and see what you like. You just want to focus on how it feels, what feels good, and what feels weird.

Your job – because he isn’t a magic wizard who knows what your body feels like from the inside – is to tell your boyfriend what feels hot and what is not. Don’t leave it to chance, and don’t think “Oh well he seems to be enjoying it and I don’t want to interrupt that”. This needs to feel good to you, or you are doing something wrong, and he doesn’t know unless you tell him. Pain is completely unacceptable. (Accidents happen, but that is the exception, not the rule.)

Choosing your battles

Sex is often easier and better during certain times of your menstrual cycle, so when you are ovulating (and can get pregnant more easily, but if you use a condom you will be fine) your sex hormones (the ones that make you horny) are much higher. This encourages you to have sex when you are able to get pregnant, biologically speaking, but it is also a great time to choose to have sex for the first time, since you will be much more turned on than you might be say right after your period has finished. (Get a period tracker app and start charting your cycles so you know when these times are – they are fun!) If you have a 28-day cycle, this is the magical Day 14, but keep in mind every single cycle you have will be a slightly different length, and therefore you will ovulate at different times.

The hymen “cherry”

Your hymen is unlikely to still exist if you have already had fingers inside of your body, use tampons, or any number of other things. Read our article about the hymen. The hymen isn’t actually like popping a cherry at all, in fact it stretches off to the sides usually, so first-time sex – even with fingers and tampons previously – may still be a little bit uncomfortable.

You can check in a mirror for your own hymen, to see if it still exists (look up images online to see what it should look like). In your case, I’d say it is unlikely that your hymen is still fully intact, and you will probably not experience any hymen-related pain or bleeding on sexual intercourse. If you do, however, don’t worry because it won’t happen again, and isn’t a huge problem unless your hymen is very thick and fibrous. Take it slow, be gentle, do an inspection, stretch it out, and the hymen won’t be a problem for you.

Vaginal tightness

You are young, and your vagina is going to be tight – that is just a fact. But, the vagina is elastic, which is why you need to be turned on for sex to work. When you are turned on, the vagina opens to welcome a penis, gets wet and swollen with blood, and becomes a very inviting prospect for sex. When you are not turned on, the vagina is dry and tight and unwelcoming. It is your job to make sure your body is hot, wet and open before allowing anything to be put inside you.

If something goes wrong (pain, discomfort, anxiety), stop, and try again another day. There is no hurry for this, and you are both learning. Despite the fact that your boyfriend has done it before with another girl, doesn’t make him an expert on you, so make sure you don’t defer this experience to his wisdom, because he doesn’t really have any more than you do and he doesn’t know what your body is going to feel like. Every person is different and their sexual preferences and needs have to be discussed, usually at length and on an ongoing basis, before they can get off properly and have great sex.

Keep talking to each other through the whole thing, and keep your expectations to a minimum. Sex is weird and funny! Enjoy yourselves.

If you have any more questions, we’d love to hear from either of 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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