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Will sex hurt?

I am a girl about to have sex for the first time. Will it hurt? Will there be blood?

The first time a girl has sexual intercourse (penis-in-vagina sex), it may hurt a little. And there may be a small amount of blood.

For some girls, first-time intercourse hurts a little because their hymen is torn or broken during the sex. The hymen is a thin membrane that partly covers the opening of a girl's or woman's vagina. (If you use a mirror, you might be able to see it.) Most girls break their hymens during childhood, often without knowing it, through regular menstruation or activities like using tampons, bike-riding or sport. But in some girls, the hymen stays intact until they start having intercourse. If the hymen is intact, intercourse can be a little painful and there may be a small amount of blood.

If your hymen is still intact, you can stretch it open yourself for several weeks before you have intercourse. It should be pushed to the sides of the vagina. Put one or two clean fingers into your vaginal opening and move them gently from side to side. Do this every day until it stretches. There may be normal spotting of blood when you do this.

Other things can also cause sex to be painful, whether it is the first time or the hundredth time. Sex should not usually hurt.

If intercourse hurts the woman, it is often because she hasn't been sexually aroused through other sexual activities (such as kissing, touching, masturbation and oral sex). That means that her vagina isn't lubricated enough ("wet") before the man puts his penis into it. When a girl or woman feels sexy, the walls of her vagina respond by giving off a liquid that wets the vagina and makes it easier for the penis to enter.

Another reason why intercourse may hurt is that you are tense, worried or scared. If you are worried, or afraid, or unsure about having sex, then your vaginal entrance may tighten up and you may be less sexually aroused and less "wet" or lubricated. This means that getting a penis in your vagina is more likely to hurt. You may feel worried or tense because you are not sure you want to have sex, you are worried about getting pregnant or a disease, or you don't have privacy.

Sex is much more likely to feel good for both people if both people are happy and comfortable having sex - if both people do want to have sex. And both people will be less worried if they know that they cannot get pregnant because they are using contraception (such as condoms).

Finally, intercourse may hurt because you have an infection such as thrust or a urinary tract infection. If sex is often painful for you, go see a doctor or nurse.



I only recently have gotten a boyfriend and have started having regular sex. After 2 or more days, it starts to get a bit sore down there. Is that normal? I just assumed it was pain from friction, but I don’t know if that’s right and I’ve never sought help because it’s a bit embarrassing!


Sandra, 17, in Sydney

 Key points

  • Sex should never hurt
  • If it does, tell the person to stop
  • Get checked out by a GP or sexual health clinic to make sure it’s not something that needs to be treated – better safe than sorry.

Hi, and thanks for your question! You’re not alone in finding that sex isn’t always straightforward. By sex, I assume you mean intercourse. What I’m not sure about is where you mean by “down there”. In a woman’s body, down there is lots of places!


Vagina


To start with, sex shouldn’t hurt, and if it does, a good tip is to say “stop”, no matter what! The aftermath of sex also shouldn’t hurt – whether it’s two minutes, two hours or two days later.

Even very vigorous intercourse where there’s lots of friction should not actually hurt. It can happen if there’s not enough natural (or artificial) lubrication or if there’s some muscle tension in the vagina. Both of these can be signs of not being fully aroused (turned on) beforehand or during sex, or being a bit anxious about having sex.


Read more: Female sexual dysfunction or not knowing how to ask for what feels good?


A new partner or relationship can bring some anxiety for each person. It can affect the way a woman’s body (or a man’s) gets aroused and how comfortable sex feels. Good communication with your partner about what feels good is really helpful.

If you have background worry about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or pregnancy, that can definitely affect enjoyment of sex. Getting armed with knowledge and equipment to prevent any unwanted consequences of sex should be a routine part of getting into a relationship for both parties.

The cause of your pain also depends on where it is – is it at the opening of the vagina, or other parts of the vulva? Is it related to peeing, and is it always in the same place?

Inflammation (redness and soreness) can cause pain – this could be from inside the vagina such as with a thrush infection (which is not sexually transmitted) or from the skin in the vulva (which could be from dermatitis or a skin condition).

Some STIs cause pain in the genital area, for example herpes (caused by the cold sore virus), but you would be likely to notice the sores as well. A common STI such as chlamydia often has no symptoms, but could cause pain higher up in the pelvic area or when you wee. A condition known as vulvodynia causes chronic pain, not just from having sex – it can also be triggered by the conditions mentioned above.


Read more: Health Check: what controls our sex drive? When and why do we feel like sex?


You deserve to be enjoying a happy and healthy sex life, and not feeling embarrassed about one of the most natural experiences in the world – even if it’s not always going right. It’s important you do get personal advice, since this could be something that needs treatment. It would be good to have a doctor or sexual health clinic check up, and this can all be done completely confidentially.


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Please tell us your name (you can use a fake name if you don’t want to be identified), age and which city you live in. Send as many questions as you like! We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will do our best.The Conversation

Melissa Kang, Associate professor, University of Technology Sydney

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