Aunt Vadge: my new girlfriend has major pain when I touch her vaginal entrance. Why?

Hello Aunt Vadge, 

I am writing to you regarding a problem I am encountering which I hope you could shed some light on.

Recently I have been dating my new girlfriend and we have begun to reach that stage in our relationship where things start to get physical. For context I should say that this is my second girlfriend I have had sexual relations with and let me say, if this has taught me anything, it’s that even though girls have the same down there anatomically, their preferences and how they get off is completely different. 

Regardless, the problem I am coming across is her major discomfort and pain when I touch or go near her vaginal opening. Now, I know you’re going to think something along the lines of “he’s going too rough” or “he’s doing it wrong” but this occurs even when doing the smallest thing such as rubbing around the opening with my finger and barely even applying much pressure.

She is a virgin and is new to all things sexual, if that is relevant. This discomfort however is not present at all when rubbing her clitoris and thus that’s what we tend to often resort to.

The girl’s amazing and I really want this to be a problem we can overcome in the short term, any help or advice is appreciated.


Dear Worried,

Sometimes, especially when we don’t have much or any sexual experience to speak of, the vagina can be naturally tense as it protects itself. That means anything coming near it, trying to get inside, is kept out.

This reaction is completely normal – to use an example, think about someone trying to put a finger into your butt – you’d clench up in expectation of pain and it being weird, especially without a proper warm-up. This tensing up is automatic to protect us.

Vaginas need maximum gentleness and some coaxing at first, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. But the coaxing isn’t necessarily of her vagina, but her brain, since the brain controls the body.

Your girlfriend is new to sex, and may not have masturbated much or even had an orgasm yet. It may take longer than she or you may prefer for her body to relax enough for her to enjoy the touching of her vaginal entrance and for the pain (the protection) to disappear. This is even truer if she has a history of abuse or assault, which complicates matters.

The pelvis in women is a complex piece of anatomy and there is no one answer for her to remove this pain. There are a few good places to start, however, and that means a bit of experimentation.

Importantly, an immediate reframing of ‘resorting’ to touching her clitoris is in order. You don’t ever ‘resort’ to touching a woman’s clitoris. If you’re not touching her clitoris, then what are you doing to her? You do realise that her clitoris is the centre of her sexual universe, not her vagina!

You have a beautiful opportunity here to make the absolute most of giving your girlfriend pleasure without penetration. Penetration for many women is completely overrated and doesn’t ring their bells at all. Penetration is a very penis-and-finger-based ‘male’ way to look at the vagina; putting things in it.

Forget about this, and when her vagina is ready to join the party, it will. In the meantime, relax, enjoy her clitoris with your mouth and fingers and whatever else she likes and make her orgasm. Lots. There’s no better way to relax!

There is a possibility that your girlfriend is experiencing what’s known as vulvodynia (‘mysterious vulvar or vaginal or vestibular pain that we don’t have a cause or cure for’), and that she could really benefit from some pelvic physiotherapy, but the fact is – she hasn’t even had sex. Of course it’s like this now.

There’s probably nothing wrong with her – she’s reacting in a completely normal way to the prospect of being jabbed at by inexperienced hands (no offence – I’m sure you are gentle and lovely!) or a penis.

Just take your time and don’t try to hurry it along. You’ll learn much more about each other by ignoring her vagina for a while, you know, act like it doesn’t even exist, than overfocusing on penetration – a classic rookie error. If more guys were obsessed with the clitoris, women would be much more sexually satisfied than the current status quo where dudes just want to Stick It In.

It is also important that your girlfriend starts to investigate her own body by herself. She needs to be the boss of the touch, and see if the pain still occurs when she touches her vagina instead of you. Can she touch herself and feel pleasure without pain? Has she ever been able to? Has the pain only started since sexual activity with you was on the cards? Can she use tampons?

Her own explorations will be some of the most important here, since she can push through when she feels she can, and back off if it’s not working. It leaves her in complete control, which is important.

Being afraid of pain is terrible, and only makes the mental and emotional outcomes worse. She may feel guilt or shame for this, and then the pain and fear of pain to come. It’s not a good situation so you backing off her vaginal entrance is really important. It’s not your job to solve this; it’s hers.

Your girlfriend may need to do some pelvic floor relaxation exercises, which are best taught by a trained pelvic physiotherapist. You can find videos online to help, but make sure the videos are by trained pelvic physiotherapists and that the exercises are to relax or create healthy function of the pelvic floor, not to tighten the pelvic floor.

Both are important – the pelvic floor muscles are like the tongue – when used correctly, the muscle keeps itself in perfect shape. If we don’t breathe properly, hold our stomachs in to seem skinnier, don’t exercise correctly, sit down all day, are anxious about sex, and so on, the muscles can get weak or tight and stop functioning properly, resulting in pain like this.

Your girlfriend needs to be the boss of this, not you, so let her lead you and leave it in her hands to experiment by herself and tell you how to touch her. Her pleasure is her responsibility, not yours. Give her the power of deciding how this goes and it will go better faster.

Promise her that you won’t try to put anything inside her vagina until she expressly tells you to, and stick to that. When she’s ready, she’ll tell you, and until then, keep your mitts out of it and focus on getting really good with your tongue. When her brain sees it’s in charge and views you as a friend, she’ll relax and the rest will be history.

You sound like a lovely person and she’s lucky to have a guy who cares so much about her happiness. It makes all the difference in the world. Promise. Keep up the good work!

Aunt Vadge

Aunt Vadge,

Thank you immensely for your reply, it has reassured me a lot. I had the idea that the reaction was natural to begin with but thought I’d try a second opinion from a reputable source.

I can see that my choice of the word “resort” put across the wrong idea. I really enjoy going at her clit and she seems to as well. Whether it’s with my mouth or fingers, is there anything I should look out for? Tips, no-go’s, etc?

What we are doing at the moment seems to work and we both really enjoy it, however I’m always interested is trying to pleasure her more. 

Any help is appreciated. 

Yours sincerely,
Not As Worried

Dear Not as Worried,

You sound like you’ve got it covered. Everything in my original response stands true – work on reassurance, relaxation and really turning her on.

Promote trust and respect by communicating – talk about everything you are doing, how it feels, what you’re both thinking, and vice versa, even when it’s awkward. Getting over that awkward part is key to actually getting the best out of a partner regarding sex stuff. Don’t act like you know what you’re doing, and you’ll soon learn (and not have to always keep asking!).

Don’t make this learning only about her either – take some of your own pleasure and give lessons to her! It’ll feel more even that way, instead of her having a ‘problem’.

You’re doing good work, and as long as you’re both ok with it, keep going.

Aunt Vadge