Q: I’m 22 years old and my husband and I haven’t had intercourse in almost a year. It hurts me too much. I was abused by a boyfriend, which left me feeling that sex is a bad thing. I know it’s not, but I can’t escape the feeling. What’s wrong with me? Is it all in my head?
A: For some women who are beginning to have sexual activity, intercourse can be painful. One possibility is that part of your hymenal ring is still there. A good gynecologist should be able to tell you if that is the case, and she could easily (under a bit of anesthesia) snip it, which would make penetration more comfortable.
Many men hurry penetration, and do not realize that lubrication is an important result of women’s sexual arousal. Make sure that you are excited enough and well lubricated enough – this takes time. If you are not well lubricated, for whatever reason, you can use a lubricant such as Astroglide. Astroglide is a glycerin-based solution, and is available over the counter at most pharmacies.
Some women reflexively tighten their vaginas whenever they sense sexual penetration is near. This condition is known as vaginismus. It is particularly common in women who were abused or who were raised to think that sex is “bad.” Do not be afraid to share this information with your caregiver; she can help get you into counseling to deal with these issues.
There are some simple exercises, however, that you can try with your partner to help conquer vaginismus. Agree with your partner, as you begin the exercises, that intercourse will not be planned for that day – you are only doing the exercises. Have your partner place one finger into your vagina, using a lubricant. Have him keep it there for a few minutes. After trying this a few times, have him place two fingers into the vagina, and repeat the same routine. Keep on increasing the number of fingers he can place into your vagina. Called vaginal containment exercises, they help stretch your vagina and make you realize that you are indeed capable of comfortable intercourse. Often times, this simple exercise will be all you will need. But please don’t hesitate to see a qualified sex therapist. Good luck.