Aunt Vadge: why is fingering so excruciating?

Hi Aunt Vadge,

I’m a 28-year-old virgin. Last night I let my boyfriend finger me and it felt like pressure. I have never touched myself before. Or used tampons. I got used to the pressure after a while but as he got a tiny bit deeper it felt like excruciating pain, and he told me he was just on the outside. Not even on the inside.

He told me I’m not supposed to be so sensitive and that there’s something wrong.

Why does it hurt so much?

Sincerely,
Miss Sensitive

_______

Dear Miss Sensitive,

First of all, congratulations on your bold step into the sexual stratosphere!

There are a few things that could be going on here.

Your hymen might still exist

It sounds suspiciously like your hymen is still intact if in fact it’s true that your boyfriend’s finger was still on the outside. There is nothing medically wrong with you, but you are going to need to bust your hymen before you can put anything inside of your vagina – fingers, penis, pencils, whatever – if it is, indeed, your hymen.

You may have an anatomical abnormality

There are some other options as to what the painful block might be, including anatomical abnormalities. These include double vaginas, tiny vaginas, half vaginas, and everything in between.

You may have vulvodynia

Vulvodynia is a mysterious pain condition with no fixed cause, and needs to be diagnosed by a doctor, and infections or other causes ruled out. Your doctor can help you find the cause, and then you can treat it however seems appropriate.

How to find out what the problem is

What I want you to do is read about the hymen here, and look up some Google Images of diagrams and photographs of what an intact hymen looks like. Then, get a mirror and a torch and take a good, long investigative look. Take your time. You will probably be able to see your hymen (if it’s there), since the hymen is really close to the vaginal entrance. You are looking for a complete covering of raw skin (looks like the inside of your mouth), probably with a small hole in it that your menstrual blood comes out of.

While you’re there, examine your vagina and reference each part of it to a diagram you can find in Vag Basics. You need to learn where your clitoris is, what your labia look like, where your vagina entrance is, and where your urethra sits. This information should not be mysterious to you.

Since you have never had anything inside of your vagina, it’s difficult to determine what’s going on, however it is very easy to find out by visiting someone who knows about this stuff and looks at all kinds of vaginas all the time: your local sexual health clinic or your local doctor. They should be able to see very quickly what the hold-up is, and advise you how to go about overcoming it.

If it’s your hymen, they can – on the spot – quickly nick it open so you don’t have to burst it yourself. That might be a quicker and less painful way of going about breaking your hymen, since the only other way is to force something through it, like a penis or a finger. This is going to hurt and bleed if your hymen is intact at age 28, as it might be quite thick. Some hymens are just like that. It might be nicer for you and your boyfriend not to have to force your way through, as this will make your sexual experiences unpleasant for no real reason.

If it is an anatomical abnormality, you need to know about that now, since it could affect your sex life and your ability to give birth vaginally.

I recommend going to see someone for a quick visit to check that everything is in order, the sooner the better.

This brings us to the fingering

It’s also possible that your boyfriend is hurting you with his fingers, though this seems less likely, as being fingered, even badly, doesn’t cause excruciating pain. It might be uncomfortable, sore, or whatever, but ‘excruciating’ is not the word people use to describe it.

What’s more important is that your boyfriend shouldn’t actually be trying to put his fingers inside you yet. You both need to read this article about pleasuring women using fingers, for guys. Fingering is actually advanced sex play, and if you are not turned on and very much ready to be penetrated (wet and aroused), it’s going to hurt. The number of emails I get about pain during or after fingering by guys who have no idea what they’re doing is simply frightening. Sex play should never be painful. 

Fingering a woman is not the best way to turn her on or pleasure her, and in fact it’s a surefire way to turn her off and hurt her if it’s the first thing you do. Fingering is what men who don’t know much about sex try to do to a woman – it doesn’t work, and women who don’t know any better (sexually inexperienced) think they are supposed to like it, and are confused when it hurts and doesn’t feel good.

Read the article, get him to read it too, visit a clinic, and then, when you know what’s going on, you can finally begin your wonderful and pleasurable sexual journey with your boyfriend.

There are tons of resources online for you to learn how to masturbate, find what your vagina is supposed to do, and so on, but it’s really important that you learn how to touch your own body so you know what you like. Get turned on by yourself, masturbate, see what’s going on with your vagina, your nipples, your clitoris. Become best friends with your clitoris! Become accustomed to your femininity and sexuality and juices and sensations, and learn how you like to be touched so you can pass that information on to your lovers.

If you need any more help about anything, get in touch. We’d love to hear what the outcome was!

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.