Kasandra Brabaw Photographed by Natalia Mantini. There are two main tales that get spun around having sex for the first time. One, that as long as you have sex with the right person, it'll be magical and beautiful. And two, no matter who you have sex with for the first time, it's bound to be awkward and painful as hell. But, which tale is true? Well, it's hard to say. Having sex for the first time is so personal that there's no way of knowing if you'll have a magical experience, an awkward experience, or both.
As for the pain? That doesn't have to happen. Advertisement Whether or not having sex for the first time is painful depends partially on a person's individual anatomy. Some people who have vulvas naturally have more hymenal tissue than others, according to Planned Parenthood , so penetrative sex — meaning penis-in-vagina sex, fingering, or using an internal sex toy like a dildo or strap-on — might be more painful for them than others because it can stretch the hymen.
Someone might also experience more pain during sex if they have a condition like vulvodynia , which causes chronic pain around the opening of the vagina. She suggests reaching out to a clinical sexologist, who can help you work through ways to make sex feel better.
Barring issues with anatomy, sex can also hurt if either you or your partner aren't ready or haven't been taught how to make sex pleasurable for everyone involved.
That's true even if you're not having penetrative sex. Vulvas can hurt from over-stimulation of the clitoris. Especially for people who have vaginas, not being mentally prepared for sex can make their vagina too dry or too tight.
If your body isn't ready, you might just need a little more foreplay to turn yourself on, you might need to use lube , or you might need to rethink having sex and try again when you're in the right place emotionally.
Advertisement Of course, those problems are much less likely when the people having sex know how to make sex feel good. We barely teach them what sex is," Dr. Doe suggests educating yourself.
Learn about the stages of arousal ," she says. It can help to find someone you can talk to about sex. Ask what their first time was like, talk to your partner about what you want out of the sexual experience, and do your research. Doe's Sexplanations videos are a great place to start. She also suggests that the first person you have sex with is someone you trust. You don't have to be married, or even dating, but it's much more likely that you'll have that magical sexual experience if you trust that your partner won't hurt you.
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