Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Somehow my boyfriend and I made it this far as virgins. But it’s come to the point where penis wants to meet vagina. Frankly, I’m a little nervous about penetrative sex—will I enjoy it? Will it hurt? What can I do to make sure that it won’t?
– Nervous About Sex
Well, NAS, I’m glad you have some time to think about your first time before it happens. We get a lot of questions about Ã¢€œfirst times,Ã¢€? and are happy to address your concerns. As for anyone beginning to engage in sexual activity, you should think about your boundaries. How far are you willing to go? What will you do if you partner crosses this boundary? Hopefully these issues will not come up, but it is a good exercise to think more about how you want your sexual experience to be.
It is probably a good idea to begin learning how to communicate to your partner about sex. You may want to discuss these issues in more detail beforehand, especially if you have concerns about protection or enjoying intercourse.
The next thing you’ll definitely want to think about is protection. No matter what kind of sexual experience you may be embarking upon, having the proper protection against STDs and pregnancy is vital to making your experience the best it can be. At the very least, you won’t be worrying the entire time if he’ll remember to pull out.
Know how to use this protection. If you’re using a condom, you’ll want to gently squeeze the package before using it. If you can feel a puff of resistant air inside, the seal is probably good. Make sure you leave space at the tip for the ejaculate. Don’t use more than one condom at a time, and definitely do not reuse them. More details are at this great tutorial.
Condoms are the most common method of protection, but if you’re not quite sure how to use another method, feel free to ask one of the Sexual Health Counselors on campus. A variety of different methods are available at Worth Health Center, including hormonal methods such as birth control pills. You can get a prescription for the NuvaRing at Worth, but would have to fill it at a pharmacy or Planned Parenthood.
You may not be thinking about long-term methods yet, but you do need to know that one form of protection is necessary. The rhythm method and “pulling out” both have a higher rate of failure than proper condom usage, so don’t count on these to make it through your first sexual experience.
Now that we’ve got the basic issues covered, let’s talk about having a good experience. Your first time probably won’t be magical, phenomenal, or particularly memorable (except for the anxious build-up). But here are the two basic rules: go slow, and use lube.
If your first experience involves penetration, it often may hurt, depending on the anatomy of the involved body parts. Women may even bleed the first few times they have sex, from stretching or breaking the hymen. That said, foreplay goes a long way in preparing someone for possible pain—being aroused and relaxed helps a great deal. It will probably be helpful if you have explored these parts yourself or with your partner. Penetration with a finger or two will make you more comfortable with having a larger object inside of you.
Even for this you should use lube! You can take the time you’re using to apply lube to examine your partner’s anatomy—it’s always good to know what it looks like, especially if you’re doing the penetrating. Remember, go slow. If it is uncomfortable or painful, you can always go back to foreplay and try again, with another generous rubdown of lube. That can be a lot of fun it itself!
Even when you get to the point of enjoying penetration, you may not orgasm in the end. Many women do not get to orgasm from vaginal sex, particularly if the clitoris is not being stimulated at the same time. This is even more difficult when you are encountering something new, and probably nervewracking, in the course of your sexual experience.
But this doesn’t mean the sex cannot be enjoyable, or special. Give yourself some time, and most importantly, listen to your body and to your partner during this experience.
Though it may not seem exciting to go slow and be careful, it will make your transition to being sexually active much easier. So: think, communicate, use protection, go slow, and use lube. Good luck!
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