Overcoming painful virginity loss and pain in early intercourse is a widespread occurrence. Are you a woman who is new to the world of sex, or are you considering having intercourse for the first time? Have you recently lost your virginity and were disappointed to find that you experienced a painful virginity loss? Has this pain made you afraid of future sexual encounters? Have you ever wondered if overcoming painful virginity loss and pain in early intercourse is possible? Many women struggle with overcoming painful virginity loss or experience pain in early intercourse and may feel ashamed that their body isn’t behaving the way they anticipated. If this sounds like you, there are several possible ways to overcome painful virginity loss and pain in early intercourse.
Overcoming painful virginity loss and pain in early intercourse may make women feel a variety of negative emotions. You might think that you are unable to earn anything positive out of the experience for yourself or that you are not meeting your partner’s needs. You may even experience some degree of shame that your body seems to be failing you. Your shame could lead you not to want to participate in any sexual activity. You may think that you’ve been dealt a bad hand, and your body does not respond to sexual activity in the same way that others’ bodies do, leaving you feeling broken, distraught, or hopeless. You might feel fear of losing your partner. Embarrassment might come up for you if you perceive you are the only one experiencing painful intercourse, in which you are not alone. Painful intercourse is a widespread issue for women especially! There are many reasons a woman might feel pain during intercourse, particularly during her first time.
There are two side-by-side myths perpetuated about a woman’s virginity loss. Firstly, losing one’s virginity is supposed to hurt, and secondly, losing one’s virginity shouldn’t be painful at all. Given that everyone is different and may have a different set of experiences leading up to virginity loss, one of these myths may fit you, or you may have your own myth.
Reasons for Sexual Pain & Painful Virginity Loss
Let’s explore possible reasons for sexual pain. One possible cause of sexual pain may be the hymen or the small membrane at the entrance of the vaginal canal. The hymen used to be considered a mark of virginity. However, in truth, the hymen does not disappear or break; it just stretches open. Although many might make the argument that even stretching the hymen for the first time shouldn’t hurt (since it doesn’t actually “pop” or “tear”), it is still possible to feel physical pain when it stretches for the first time, and in turn a lot of emotional pain, the first time. This doesn’t automatically mean that the woman or her partner is not careful or something “wrong” with the woman. Below you will find different versions of what your hymen might look like.
The membrane that covers the hymen in childhood should wear away on its own, but this is not the case for all women. Many factors contribute to the stretching of the hymen, such as exercise during childhood, masturbation, or tampon use. Typically, you won’t feel your hymen stretching. However, for some women, it can be painful.
Some women are born with abnormal hymens in rare cases, such as imperforate, separate, or microperforated hymens. In these cases, openings do not allow adequate space for the penetration of a penis, finger, or object without pain. Penetration might feel like a stinging sensation. If you suspect your hymen might fall into these categories, take a look with a mirror, the same way you might have done around puberty. Check if the opening looks abnormally small or if you see a thin piece of skin across the center. These can be corrected by minor surgeries and are not serious.
Out of Shape Pelvic Floor Muscles
For someone who experienced no prior penetration of any sort, you may be more likely to experience pain. Your vaginal wall is made up of muscles found in what’s called your pelvic floor. These muscles are used for a variety of different bodily movements. One such example is helping you hold in or release urine. Like other muscles in your body, your pelvic floor muscles can be sore the first time you use them in a new way. Like any other muscle in the body, the pelvic floor muscles must adapt and strengthen to get used to the new activity. Think of it in terms of an exercise routine – for someone who has not performed a strenuous workout in a while (or ever), the muscles they use will become sore the next day. As one continues a routine to strengthen these muscles, the pain will decrease. As the pelvic floor muscles become used to sexual activity, they will eventually be able to accommodate a penis or object comfortably.
Ideally, the pain should not occur by the second or third time having intercourse as your pelvic floor muscles begin to “get in shape” for sexual intercourse. If you are concerned you might have a painful virginity loss or have already experienced such, consider exercising the pelvic floor muscles yourself with one or two fingers or with dilators. Many women find these methods more comfortable, as they can exercise the muscles at their own pace. When doing so, it is helpful to be in a state of arousal and have proper lubrication as this prepares the muscles to be used in the way you want them to be. If you have worked out your pelvic floor using your fingers, dilators, penis, or other objects and you’re still experiencing pain, you may be facing something more than out-of-shape muscles.
Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder
Another possible cause of painful virginity loss and pain in early intercourse is Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder (GPPPD), which includes two former diagnoses called vaginismus and vulvodynia. Vaginismus is a general tightening of the pelvic floor muscles upon penetration. Vulvodynia is a pain in the outer area of the female genitals, such as the clitoris, labia, or near the vaginal opening. Other types of pain you may experience are a burning sensation, piercing or dull pain, tenderness or sensitivity, or muscle spasming. One cause of GPPPD can be related to your psychological state. For example, some people carry their stress in their pelvic floor, leading to painful intercourse. Experiencing high levels of anxiety or low moods such as depression can also impact your muscular response to sexual intercourse. Another cause of GPPPD is related to the new way the muscles are being used that we discussed above in reference to the pelvic floor. Other reasons why a person may be experiencing GPPPD are more of a nerve or tissue issue. Here we would recommend reaching out to a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist to rule out physical issues.
Lack of Lubrication
If pain continues, there are other possible reasons. Most commonly, vaginal pain is due to a lack of lubrication. Consider asking your partner to engage in more foreplay before sex to allow more time for lubrication to occur. Spit is a great natural lubricant. Another option is to use artificial lubricants, which are widely available at major retail stores, your local pharmacy, or even online. Be sure to stay away from oil-based lubricants if you are using a condom, as the lubricant may weaken the integrity of the condom.
Pain during intercourse may also have an emotional cause. During one’s first few sexual experiences, it is normal to feel anxious or nervous, which can cause a tightening of pelvic floor muscles. However, pain may also be linked to more persistent anxiety or fear. Ask yourself if you are completely comfortable with your partner. If you believe you might have anxiety regarding sexual activity itself, therapy can help you work through these feelings. Therapy is also helpful in overcoming various pain disorders that can affect women of all ages and all levels of sexual experience.
Exercises to Decrease Sexual Pain
There are various exercises you can try to prepare the pelvic floor muscles for sexual activity. Kegel exercises work the muscles controlling the vaginal walls, uterus, bladder, and rectum. Kegel exercises involve the same muscles you use to urinate, so next time you do so, it might be helpful to note how you control these muscles. However, you should be sure not to perform Kegels while urinating, as doing this habitually can cause urinary tract infections. To perform a Kegel exercise, start by orienting yourself into a comfortable position – sitting or lying down will probably be most comfortable. Make sure to breathe naturally throughout the exercise – do not hold your breath. Next, you will want to tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold for about 10 seconds, and then relax for 10 seconds. (If you cannot tighten the muscles for 10 seconds, start with a few fewer seconds and try working your way up to 10.) “Tightening” these muscles might feel like you are pulling your pelvic region inwards or as though you are trying to prevent urination. To prepare these muscles for penetration, the next step to this exercise is to perform the Kegels while some type of penetration is occurring, such as with dilators or fingers. A suggested time frame for penetrative Kegels is as follows:
- In the first week: If possible without pain, insert the smallest dilator available, or your cleaned pinky finger, into the vaginal canal.
- Do 12 Kegels in a row (one Kegel is 10 seconds of tightening and 10 seconds of relaxation), and then remove the dilator/pinky.
- Wait 5 minutes.
- Insert the dilator/pinky again and do another 12 Kegel exercises.
- Repeat the above steps two more times for a total of 4 sets of 12 Kegels.
- Complete the entire exercise 3 times in one week.
- In the second week: Use the same size dilator/finger, and perform a Kegel while also trying to work your pelvic floor muscles in a circle around the dilator/finger for about 5 minutes.
- Repeat this process 4 times for a total of 20 minutes per day.
- Complete the entire exercise 3 times in one week.
- In the third and fourth week: If possible without pain, use a dilator or finger that is one size greater than previously, and repeat the same exercises from the first and second week, respectively. Increase the size as you feel comfortable.
Reverse Kegel Exercises
Pelvic floor drops (also known as “reverse Kegels”) are another method of alleviating Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder. These are considered reverse Kegels because they focus solely on the relaxation portion of pelvic floor muscle exercises. Kegels, however, strengthen both the tightening and relaxing of these muscles. In some women, pelvic floor muscles may be particularly tense, so exercises focusing solely on the relaxation aspect may be the most beneficial. Another difference of pelvic floor drops involves visualization (example mentioned below.) To perform a pelvic floor drop:
- First, lie on your back. Rest the heels of your feet on an exercise ball, chair, or even a stack of pillows.
- Position your heels together, touching, but keep your knees apart.
- Rest the pads of your fingers on your knees.
- Gently push your knees upwards and then outwards. Don’t worry if your legs are not actually moving. Your fingertips will withstand this pressure, preventing movement.
- Hold this “push” feeling for about 5 seconds.
- Visualize the relaxation and lengthening of the muscles. One scenario you may use involves a flower bud. Model the slight bit of tension of a closed flower bud. Then, as you push outwards during the exercise, picture the flower’s slow opening and the release of the tension.
- Repeat this process 5 times per session.
Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises
Another possible exercise to help with Genito-Pelvic Pain/Penetration Disorder is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as “deep breathing.” The pelvic floor muscles and the diaphragm are both arranged horizontally along the abdomen. When taking a deep breath, the abdominopelvic cavity enlarges while the pelvic floor muscles elongate. This exercise helps with pelvic pain because it trains the pelvic floor muscles to both stretch and relax. To correctly perform diaphragmatic breathing, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back, bend your knees slightly, and support your head. You might consider using pillows to support both your head and legs. One or two pillows under your head, positioned as they might be while your sleep, should be sufficient. For your legs, two or three pillows stacked under your knees should be enough to assure your legs stay bent in the proper position.
- Take one hand and set it on your chest. Place the other hand below your rib cage. This is to help you to feel your diaphragm actually moving while you do the exercise.
- Inhale slowly using your nose. The most important part of this exercise is assuring that you are breathing correctly. You should feel the hand near your stomach rising as you breathe, but the hand on your chest should remain mostly still.
- Exhale through your mouth. The hand on your chest should still not be moving.
- Unlike Kegels, you should not feel a buildup of tension in your pelvic floor muscles. Instead, you should experience a relaxing, releasing sensation as you exhale.
- It may be beneficial to do 5-10 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing a day.
Painful virginity loss and pain in early intercourse are common occurrences among women. Despite their frequency, there are many techniques targeting various causes of genito-pelvic pain. Sometimes the solution is as simple as adding lubrication, gently stretching the hymen, or assuring you are comfortable with your partner. In other cases, mild surgeries to correct abnormal hymens could solve your pain quite easily. If none of these prove helpful, routine exercises such as those explained above are an accessible way for women to treat their own pelvic pain in the comfort of their own homes. However, speaking to a professional therapist about your specific experiences with pain also has many benefits. Even if after reading this article you’re still struggling and need sex therapy or counseling, or if you have other questions or concerns about painful virginity loss and painful intercourse, feel free to schedule an appointment at The Better You Institute. Call us today at 267-495-4951 to set up your appointment.
Read more about the female genital anatomy.