Aunt Vadge: sex hurts every single time and now it just hurts all the time

Hi Aunt Vadge, 

Last week my boyfriend and I had intercourse and I ended up with a vaginal tear. We’ve been sexually active for about six months now and we’ve had a history of sexual issues. Each time we had sex I ended up either with a small cut between my vaginal opening and urethra or a bladder infection, and at a few times even both. Luckily I now know the cause of the UTI’s thanks to my supportive mom.

Sex has, apart from once, always been hurtful but I didn’t have the courage to tell my boyfriend because I was afraid to disappoint him. Last week however I broke down during sex and we tried to find the solution to less painful sex.  We found what we were doing wrong, and I suppose that after a very rough and emotionally tiring week I was too impatient and we ended up trying again two days ago.

I however didn’t think anymore about the small tear I ended up with and that probably worsened it all, for sex hurt again and we didn’t really get to do it. The tear really causes a lot of discomfort to the point I am almost continuously crying over the little but persistent pain, burning feeling and constant urge to pee (which makes me go in circles, because I drink a lot of water to avoid getting an UTI but it makes me pee a lot and peeing hurts so to make my pee as watery and harmless as possible I drink a lot and so it continues) and I really wonder if there’s anything I can do to relieve the pain a bit, because it keeps me awake and I haven’t had a good night’s rest for quite a while and I’m basically getting quite desperate here to just ease the pain to the point where I’m at least able to sleep. I already tried an oatmeal bath yesterday which was very relieving but right now it doesn’t seem to do the trick anymore and my mother also has no clue how to soothe the pain anymore.

Thank you a lot for the reply in advance,

A desperate and sleep deprived crybaby
Age: 17
Country/Area: The Netherlands

Dear Desperate and Sleep Deprived,

You’re definitely not a cry baby. This sounds really uncomfortable and upsetting. I’ll do my best to give you a bunch of options to try in order to soothe the pain, fix the future cuts, and assist in making sex a pleasurable thing for you, too.

First, stop trying to have sex! At all. Sex, for now, is off the to-do list. You need to heal your vulva and vagina as your priority. That means do not touch it or try to put anything in it for at least two weeks. If you still have symptoms after a week, you’ll need to figure out why – it should be normalised by then. You want to be properly healed, however, so wait longer. You have a bit of a process ahead of you, to avoid this happening ever again, but don’t worry – it’s possible! You will be having great sex, but not for months at least. You and your boyfriend have got some work to do.

Follow these instructions for caring for your vulva and vagina. 

For sleep, I would avoid putting anything on the cut that is going to irritate it. Maybe a cold, damp flannel between your legs, or an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel. You could even go to the chemist and ask for a soft, healing gel with no chemicals to soothe cuts on the vulva (you could even ask your mum to do this if it sounds a bit scary!) But really, as with any cut, it will take a little time to heal. No sex, no playing with it, just soft, gentle, soothing things that will ease your mind and the pain. That little thing is working over time to heal, so send all your loving it’s way.

Let’s look to the future (that is once you’re feeling all healed, cut free and clear in your mind!)

Some things you can try before you ask your boyfriend to help: 

Find a water-based lubricant for sensitive skin. Put this lube on your finger and spend a couple of minutes a day massaging the opening of your vagina. You can do this simply as a massage practice, as a way of strengthening the skin, or you can incorporate it into your masturbation time – yes, you should be having some of that!

Apply a little pressure with your finger, and follow the vaginal opening around in circles repeatedly. This will let your skin get used to the lube, and will help strengthen the tissue, as it develops a little more resilience to stretching. While you’re there, you can figure out what feels good, and you can teach your boyfriend how to touch you to, turn you on well and truly, before you have sex next time.

Being wet and turned on is the single biggest preventer of cuts and tears from sex, and if you are not properly turned on, you are robbing yourself of good sex, while also damaging your body by allowing your boyfriend to penetrate you when you’re not ready. When we’re young, this isn’t always clear – we might not know what turns us on or what feels good, and so we just let our boyfriends pump away at our bodies and hope for the best. Cuts and tears are almost always the result.

You and your boyfriend should read these three articles, together if possible so you can talk the points over while you read:

  1. How to go down on a woman
  2. Fingering basics
  3. Sex 101

When you’re ready for your boyfriend to step in:

Set up rules. When you say stop, you both actually stop. You’re going to have to insist on taking it really slow at first, because we don’t want to go all in and risk you being in pain again. It’s all about little steps. Sex is not meant to hurt, and if it does, you’re doing it wrong. Whenever your boyfriend touches you or you touch yourself, you can put it into three basic categories: feels good, feels like nothing, or feels weird/hurts.

Your boyfriend needs you to give him feedback, at least at first all the time, until eventually he knows the good bits, and avoids the weird or neutral bits. This is how good sex ends up happening, but you both have to take the time to learn your bodies. This learning is reciprocal – you also no doubt need to learn how to touch your boyfriend’s penis in a way that really turns him on. You can make this into a game, where you each spend five minutes investigating each other’s bits with verbal feedback – that is, ‘good’, ‘nothing much’, and ‘weird/sore’, plus any categories you feel like adding.

To get your vagina and vulva (body) ready for penetration, you need more work than your lover does. That means lots of (in its own right, delicious) foreplay. Let him kiss you all over. Let him play with you. Teach him how you like to be touched. ONLY when you are wet should he go anywhere near the inside of your vagina. You get to say when, and you also get to reverse your decision anytime! He might put his penis in and you realise you aren’t ready.

Your body is not there just to take his penis any which way he puts it in – he has no idea what he is doing either! Good sex means both of you really enjoying it, not just tolerating it while in agony. That’s terrible sex! Your boyfriend wants to see you orgasm. You’ll get there, but you both have to take the time to learn your body and say things out loud about what feels good and what doesn’t, without it being awkward. Knowing how to have good sex does not come naturally to any human on earth, and each of us is different. Penis in vagina alone does not equal a happy time.

When you do come to the sex bit, before your boyfriend enters you, make sure there is a lot of lube on his penis. A condom will help with this. Put the condom on, apply lots of lube, and then only stick the head of the penis inside your vagina, but don’t forget your clitoris! Penetration usually doesn’t feel like anything much without clitoral stimulation, which is the game changer. If that far in feels ok, you can go a little further. And a little further. And a little further. If it feels good there, and doesn’t feel good at the next step, take it back to where it felt good and sit there for a little while. And then maybe you’re finished for the day, and you can try it all again tomorrow. Slow and steady wins the race. Nobody needs to orgasm – you are being learner drivers, not porn stars.

Always go to the toilet after you’ve had sex (this helps clear out the urethra and helps prevents UTIs) and never have sex without lube. The wetter the better, as they say.

Thanks for writing in. I really want you to focus on healing your cuts for the next week or so, and then look at these little activities to try only when you’re feeling all better and optimistic about the next sexual experience.

Please let us know how you go, as there are always more options for you to try!

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)

Latest posts by Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N) (see all)