It doesn’t matter who you are ––sex for the first time is a huge deal. Whether you’re preparing to lose your virginity (or have sex with a new partner for the first time), at least a little discomfort is inevitable. After all, everyone is different and sex is a learning process.
So, how can you reduce the amount of pain you feel? I’ve enlisted the help of Laura-Anne Rowell, a sex coach at Primitive Balance, to share a few ways to have a more pleasurable experience during your first time.
1. Set realistic expectations.
Take some time and evaluate your own expectations. What are they? Be wary that popular culture often depicts intercourse as sensual and hot when, in reality, your first time is more likely to be sweaty and uncomfortable.
Believe it or not, unrealistic expectations (even if you don’t consciously realize you have them) can negatively impact your first experience. Go into the act with a clear mind and understand that what you’ll come to define as “good” sex is going to take time, practice and patience to establish. While you may want to lower your expectations on how the experience will physically feel, you should absolutely have high expectations in terms of a caring partner and consent. Make sure you’re absolutely sure that you’re emotionally ready! You should never feel pressured by your partner, friends or society into having sex.
2. Find a peaceful space.
Everyone is anxious prior to having sex for the first time, so the last thing you need is for the process to be disrupted by outside noises. It is extremely important to feel comfortable physically, mentally and emotionally if you want to maximize pleasure. Create an environment where you and your partner can feel safe and open –– and where you’re sure no one will accidentally barge in.
3. Talk about sex with your partner.
Oftentimes, the pressure associated with sexual performance makes the experience more disappointing than it has to be. To combat such pressures, take the time to have a sex talk with your partner beforehand. I get it, you might feel like talking about the mechanics of sex will make things unromantic or just plain awkward. Make the conversation fun and relaxed. Start with openers like “I like when you do this…now let’s try this,” or “this hurts…maybe this will feel better.” Learn each other’s pleasure zones. What makes you both feel good? What are your boundaries? Knowing your partner is turned on will inadvertently turn you on more, too.
Communicating beforehand will make you both feel more excited about the experience and, in turn, reduce pain.
4. Start with foreplay.
For sex to be enjoyable, you have to be turned on. If you aren’t lubricated (either naturally or with some extra help), it’s going to hurt. Foreplay is a great and extremely fun way to get things started! It’s important to note that foreplay is different for everyone. “The main reason for women to engage in foreplay is not only mental stimulation (getting more in the mood) but for biological reasons (to get wet),” Rowell says. “When a woman is turned on and wet, this makes sex more enjoyable and easier for penetration (less painful).”
Anna, a sophomore at the University of Maryland, lost her virginity this past summer. “Because my body was so new to penetration, my boyfriend did a lot of fingering to prepare me for, well, the final act,” she says. “Easing into things via foreplay helped to make first-time sex virtually painless for me.”
Keep in mind that not all women get turned on by the same things. “Some women get turned on just by kissing and that is enough foreplay for them to have sex,” Rowell says. “Others take longer and want oral play, breast play and soft (or rough depending on your style) caresses before wanting sex.” Before penetration begins, make sure you feel aroused by engaging in foreplay with your partner. Otherwise, you’re going to feel slight pain and discomfort.
5. Take it slow.
To help ease into things, make sure you indicate to your partner that you want to take it slow. Be patient with each other, take your time, communicate during the act and learn what feels right ––and what doesn’t. Kelsey, a junior at Florida State University, knows just how important it is not to rush into things. “The best thing you can do to reduce any pain is just to be relaxed,” she says. “Don’t push it or do it when you don’t really want to. Your nerves and hesitancies might make it harder to be “turned on,” and that can be painful!” We couldn’t agree more.
If you’re having trouble relaxing, try playing soothing music, focusing on your breathing, or simply laughing with your partner. Keep in mind that you can stop at any point if it hurts too much. Never think you have to just “get it over with” or “suck up the pain,” sex should be enjoyable for both partners.
6. Experiment with different positions.
Once sex is underway, don’t be afraid to experiment with your body positioning. Just because one thing doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean everything won’t feel good. Switch things up (within your comfort zone, of course) and find what makes the experience most pleasurable for both you and your partner.
According to Rowell, there are three basic positions for starters that provide the most pleasure to people with a vagina: missionary, girl on top, or doggie style. “Depending on if you want clitoral stimulation (girl on top) or if you want to feel more relaxed and find it better for g-spot (missionary) or if you want deep penetration (doggie),” she says. “In all these positions, you are able to control and communicate with your partner easily.”
Rowell adds that, while there is no right-or-wrong first position, missionary is a good starting place if it’s your very first time. If the missionary position is causing you pain, try placing a pillow under your hips to ease discomfort. “Once you have mastered these, then you can try the variations and learn all the fancy terms,” she says.
7. Try again later.
It’s not unexpected for your first time to be less-than-extraordinary. If you’re struggling to get lubricated, your partner can’t maintain an erection or neither of you are reaching orgasm, take a break. You can ––and should–– try again later! The most important thing to do is laugh off the experience and learn from it.
If you find that you have a painful time during your first time, don’t beat yourself up. Take the time to discover what you enjoy sexually, don’t put pressure on yourself and try again when you feel ready. Trust me, when it comes to sex, practice makes perfect.