Aunt Vadge: why does sex hurt my girlfriend so much?

Dear Aunt Vadge, 

I want to know why my partner has pain during intercourse, even if it does not exceed one minute. Also the pain increases when I ejaculate. How can I insert my penis inside her vagina bit by bit, or insert it totally and hold a while, and then continue?


Dear Mystified,

The vagina is mysterious in its ways, which means understanding its nature becomes very important. The vagina (and the woman) needs to be turned on and ready for sex, and this takes particular elements to be in place.

  1. Your partner must be turned on before you ever put anything inside her vagina. Usually this means she has to like you, want to have sex with you, and find you sexually attractive. She needs to feel relaxed and comfortable, and then her body will respond accordingly.
  2. When she is turned on, her vagina will become lubricated and swell with blood, making entry of a penis smoother and pleasurable.

Stop trying to put your penis in her for a while

My advice to you is first to stop trying to have sex with penis-in-vagina for a while. Just take it off the table, and focus on turning each other on and finding out what you both like – p-in-v sex is not the only way to have sex, and it should be used in combination with many other practices for a good and healthy sex life. Obviously if sex is painful for your partner, she is not enjoying it at all, and if she isn’t enjoying it, then nobody is having fun.

Experiment, play around, figure stuff out

Sex is supposed to be fun and feel good, so if it hurts, you are doing something wrong that needs to be remedied. To fix this problem, you are going to have to learn about each other’s bodies. See what feels good, and do it. If it doesn’t feel good, try something else. Try everything! Be gentle, experiment, and relax. Use your tongue, your hands, your body, and be her student. Ask her what feels good, use a rating system, talk in code – whatever suits you as a couple. Laugh and have fun. Talk! Ask questions.

Reversing the anxiety tension

Because sex has been painful for your partner, you now need to work on relaxing her, making her feel good, and really being very dedicated to making sure she is very turned on before you try to put anything inside her vagina – anxiety makes vaginas tense and tight and painful to use in a sexual way. Fear of pain, understandably, makes people tense.

You need to reverse this response, and with her agreement of course, taking penetration off the table for a while means she doesn’t have to feel scared, but you can both focus on what feels good. Penetrative sex will be a natural progression once you establish a good sexy base where she is really turned on.

We are all (sort of) unique sexual snowflakes

Sex isn’t something we are born knowing how to do well, and every single person needs to be touched in unique ways. What worked on someone else has only a small chance of working on the next woman. Learning how to touch another person is a never-ending occupation as a partner – it is your job as a partner to learn precisely how your lover likes to be touched, and discover new ways together.

Read How to have sex 101 to make sure you have the basics down, plus how to perform cunnilingus, and Fingering Basics for Men. Take in Vag Basics, look at the diagrams, and learn the parts – once you have learnt them, learn about your partner’s vagina in intimate detail. Gently touch and name each part, lick it, touch it, smell it, and get to know it intimately.

Ask her how everything feels when you do this or that. Ask questions. Talk. Don’t think about your own orgasm, but think about this as a way to later on down the track have amazing sex with someone you love. This is how you get there – it takes time and effort and kindness and love. Orgasm, while wonderful, isn’t the aim here – that will come in good time. You do want to get her to the point where she can orgasm, but this might not be from penetrative sex – maybe she can orgasm other ways.

You need to know how to make her orgasm, and that comes from learning about her body.

My advice would be for the pair of you to read these articles together, because there is a very good chance that she doesn’t really understand her own body and sexual response very well either. This is really common, so sit down and read, read it to her aloud, and look at all the pictures. Open up the conversation – she can probably help you more than you think. It’s her job too so get her on board.

Medical conditions causing painful sex

What your partner appears to have is what’s known as dyspareunia, but this doesn’t necessarily have its root in an actual medical condition – all it means is ‘painful sex’, which can have a variety of causes.

On top of this, if your partner is relaxed, turned on and is actually very keen for the sex, then she may have vulvodynia or vaginismus. If you try all of the above solutions and nothing changes, it would pay for your partner to be examined by a physician who can help to at least establish a cause and possibly diagnose a medical condition.

They do exist, and this isn’t always a matter of just ‘trying harder’ – it can be a real problem for many women that no amount of hot and dirty foreplay will solve. There could also be an allergic reaction happening when your semen enters her vagina, so until that seems resolved, do not ejaculate inside of her.

Write back anytime – we’d love to hear from you.

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

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