Sacred Forms: Pain-free First-time Sex

Sacred Forms: Pain-free First-time Sex January 9, 2019

There’s no reason for a woman to expect pain the first time she has sex.

I’m going to repeat that, just so we’re clear:

There’s no reason for a woman to expect pain the first time she has sex.

We’ve been conditioned to think otherwise, but plenty of women enjoy pain-free first-time sex. Yes, I said enjoy. Sex should be enjoyed, not feared.

When we talk about first-time sex, most people have this idea in their heads about what it’s like. A nervous, young bride grits her teeth and endures the pain while her new husband blissfully pumps away. There’s nothing either of them can do about it. The first time always hurts the woman because her husband has to forcefully (if apologetically) break through the hymen that stretches across her vaginal opening. Marital relations just aren’t possible unless he hurts her like that.

Except that’s not accurate. Not even a little.

What is the hymen?

The hymen is a thin membrane that covers part of the vaginal opening. If it covered the entire vaginal opening, how would a woman’s menstrual blood leave her body? (Something to ponder.)

In most women, the hymen is stretchy, very small, and in the shape of a crescent, with the thickest part at the bottom of her vaginal opening, near her anus. As long as her partner takes the time to make sure she’s relaxed and aroused before sex, introducing a penis into her vaginal opening for the first time shouldn’t cause her any pain.

Hymens are stretchy. Some may tear a little during sex, but others can stretch around a penis and remain intact. Some women don’t even have a hymen by the time they’re adults, even if they’re still virgins. Baby girls are born with thicker hymens that thin out and open up over time. In some women, the hymen completely disappears by the time she’s an adult. In other women, the hymen can tear or wear away because of something as non-sexual as exercising.

The presence of or lack of a hymen doesn’t say anything about a woman’s virginity.

Occasionally, a woman has what’s called an imperforate hymen. In that case, the hymen actually does cover her entire vaginal opening (the way our culture pretends all hymens do.) This creates a serious problem during puberty since her menstrual blood can’t escape. These hymens require surgery to correct the issue.

Then why do women bleed the first time they have sex?

Who says they do?

Movies and books that “romanticize” female pain during sex scenes? (Which is a whole post on its own.)

Some women do bleed a little the first time they have sex. Sometimes that’s caused by her hymen tearing, but even that isn’t so much about her hymen itself. Having a partner that doesn’t take the time to make sure her vaginal opening is relaxed enough to comfortably accommodate his penis can be the cause of her pain and bleeding.

The expectation of pain is a factor too. If a woman expects sex to be painful, it’s difficult for her to relax. If she can’t relax, it’s difficult for her to become aroused and lubricated enough for sex to be comfortable for her. The friction caused by a lack of lubrication, overly enthusiastic partner, and a clenched vagina can cause her to bleed, even if her hymen isn’t torn.

I’ve heard from way too many Christian women who’ve told me they had trouble relaxing during sex because they’d been taught for so long that sex was dirty and evil. This can cause vaginismus, an involuntary contraction of the muscles surrounding the vagina. While the root cause is the emotional trauma these women have experienced due to their religion’s misguided ideas about sex, the result is very real physical pain, and possibly bleeding, during sex. These women have been hounded into “staying pure” and “not wanting it” and are then expected to suddenly want it on their wedding night while struggling with the idea that they are no longer “pure” after a penis has been inside them. This is a huge problem within Christian circles and causes unnecessary physical and emotional pain.

A lot of women don’t bleed or experience pain the first time they have sex.

Pain and blood aren’t required the first time a woman has sex.

It’s important for both men and women to understand this. I’ve seen plenty of information in Catholic circles about the procreative aspect of marital sex, but very little emphasis on the equally important unitive aspect. One way of promoting the unitive aspect of marital sex is for a newly married couple to start off with healthy expectations. Setting up the expectation that a woman should ever experience sexual pain inflicted by her husband is an incredibly unhealthy way of starting off a sexual relationship, and is directly opposed to promoting the important unitive aspect.

Men need to adjust their expectations. If your new wife doesn’t bleed or feel pain, don’t get suspicious and accuse her of not being a virgin, even if she says she is. Dude, give yourself a round of applause instead. If your partner was comfortable the first time you had sex, you’ve done something great! You’ve helped set a positive and healthy tone for your ongoing sexual relationship.

Women need to adjust their expectations too. You don’t have to be afraid of having sex for the first time. As long as you have a partner who isn’t selfish, just take your time and make sure your body is ready and you’ve got enough lubrication to feel comfortable. Even if your hymen does tear, you probably won’t even feel it. When you’re properly aroused, stretching or even tearing your hymen doesn’t produce the horrific pain we see in movie sex scenes. If tearing your hymen was that painful, how could so many girls unknowingly tear theirs doing all sorts of normal activities? You shouldn’t expect pain the first time you have sex.


More Sacred Forms posts


Basic Female Anatomy

The Menstrual Cycle

Menstrual Complications

What is Sex?


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