Aunt Vadge: why do tampons hurt to put in?

Dear Aunt Vadge,

I wrote you a message not too long ago about fingering. (I am Concerned Girl who’s almost 15.)

So it happened [the fingering] and it was quite sore and uncomfortable, but bearable. I pulled away a few times when it got too uncomfortable.

Will it always feel like this when my boyfriend fingers me? Or is it just the first time? And another thing is, I find it quite sore and uncomfortable to wear/put it in tampons. I have tried a few times but before I get it up there, it’s like a barrier that is quite tough to get through? Is it just ️cos I’m not used to it? I’ve never worn a tampon for long, only had it in for five minutes ️because it got too uncomfortable.

Should I try and keep it in there and force it up? How? My boyfriend didn’t seem to have much trouble fingering me, and I couldn’t tell as I have never done it, but do you think he could of come across this ‘barrier’? I couldn’t really feel it as much, or tell how far he went up.

But what should I do about tampons and any further advice for my future fingering?

A concerned girl

________

Greetings Concerned Girl. Lovely to hear from you again!

Hopefully your fingering experiences only gets better from here. Fingering is not the be-all-and-end-all of sexual activity (in fact it is rarely done well), which is why it was sore and uncomfortable. The reason for this is you shouldn’t be being fingered before you are sexually aroused, and to be sexually aroused, other nice things need to happen, so let’s start at Being Sexual 101.

You and your boyfriend might like to try other things that involve touching, but no penetration. This includes touching the rest of your body, using your mouths, and finding and gently stimulating your clitoris (with lube). If you just keep trying to make the fingering work you’ll be sorely disappointed – literally. Just avoid it for now, or at least until your body lets you know that you want to be penetrated – don’t worry, you will know! It is a very distinct feeling.

You and your boyfriend should read this guide on fingering for beginners.

Your homework is, by yourself, to get some water-based lubricant and finger your own vagina, look at it in the mirror, and investigate your folds and depths. You should know how long your own vagina is – try to touch your cervix, feel the walls of your vagina, and have a poke around and see what’s inside. Take a look at these diagrams in Vag Basics, and read about what part does what.

Then touch your clitoris, or start with your clitoris – whatever seems right. This is your sexual centre, not the vagina. In fact, the vagina has very few nerve endings actually in it, as it is designed to squeeze babies out (with a minimum of pain), not to be the only source of sexual pleasure, contrary to popular belief.

You will, during your self-fingering, discover just how little sensation there is in your vagina for the most part. The clitoris is the thing that needs your attention if you are ever going to enjoy other forms of penetrative sex (dildos, penises, fingers, whatever), so find it, and touch it gently – go round in circles, go down the side, over the top, under the top, from side to side, do it fast, do it slow, go harder. Try as many different types of touch as you can think of, and just monitor how it feels. You need to know this stuff – it isn’t up to your boyfriend to know how to touch you. You need to know, so you can pass on the information.

You should never, ever be feeling pain or discomfort while being fingered, or during any sex play. If it doesn’t feel good, adjust what’s happening until it does – this means adjusting pressure, adding more lube (critical component), often going way slower and being a great deal softer.

Go slow! Your body is new to this. Take your time, and don’t feel like you ‘must be fingered or it doesn’t count’: it does count, and soon enough you can get into whatever other things you like, but you must, must, must be turned on first. This is your goal. You will know when it starts to happen, so play around, a lot – touch your breasts, your skin, your thighs, your belly. Feel yourself up! Relax, and just investigate, like a science experiment, without expectation.

Your sexual preferences are the same as the food you like, or the clothes you wear: you like what you like, and nobody would ever know unless you told them or it was obvious. Vaginas are possibly the most unobvious thing on the planet, so do yourself and your boyfriend, and all of your future boyfriends, a favour, and start to get to know your own body. Learn how to touch yourself. It might not be a horny experience straight away, but don’t be discouraged. It can take some girls a long time to find what works for them, but I guarantee if you keep trying, you will find your sexual self, by yourself. Then you can share it with someone else with more confidence, and won’t feel scared, but instead feel a bit more adventurous and have fun with it. Sex is supposed to be fun and feel good, and if that isn’t happening, you are doing it wrong.

As for your tampon woes, check out this article on how to put in a tampon, and follow the instructions. If you are still experiencing the same kind of discomfort, email us back. Check out the tips and tricks for tampon use and search the site for other information on tampons. There is only one right way to do it, like mathematics, so keep at it.

You sound like you are having some misadventures with your tampons. As previously mentioned, the vagina has very few nerve endings, so tampons become undetectable when inserted correctly – you can’t actually feel one, at all, once it is inserted properly. This means you are possibly trying to put the tampon in the wrong direction, or it is too dry.

Keep trying! Tampons are a great invention and free you up physically from using pads, which can be a real drag for heaps of reasons. It is worth practising to get right. Don’t hurt yourself, ever, as that means you’re doing it all wrong, and keep asking us for help as you go through your journey into your vagina. We are here to help!

Best of luck, Concerned Girl. We are on your side.

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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