It doesn't hurt at first...
March 29, 2010 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Sex = ouch! Help?

I have recently started having sex with my boyfriend. Recently = approx. 4 months. He is my first. I am mid twenties, in general good health.

I'm built small, he's somewhere on the lines of average to above average. Relevant: we do use (copious amounts of) lube (silicone lube), no condoms, and we always have lots, lots, lots of foreplay first. (It's fun. =D) Getting me wet and lubricated isn't the issue. I also don't have issue with his girth or length, because once I'm nice and relaxed, I can fit him in just fine.

The issue is the tissue at the entrance--the inner labia, I think. I just don't think it's used to being stretched. Everything past the entrance is all well and good, and thrusting is--at first--not an issue at all, hence my feeling it's not a friction/lube issue. Since switching over to silicone from Astroglide, him entering me has been largely pain free (barring occasional angle issues) because everything just feels smooth and slick and he slips in. But after a while the tissue gets tired and sore and I'd have a feeling of a burning pain in my crotch and I'd have to stop. Unfortunately, this point is reached rather quickly--I'd say about 2 minutes or so (once intercourse really starts). Maybe 3. Obviously, this puts a damper on things.

Again, length/girth isn't a problem; everything inside feels just fine (in fact, feels really damn good). But anything more vigorous than slow rocking (which is barely moving), ie. anything with even a nominal range of motion, will really start to burn after a few minutes. But initially it's really good--no feeling of seizing up, no I don't think it's vaginismus... Still, I think I've managed maybe two times of actually finishing intercourse without the burning feeling afterwards.

I have had gynecological exams with no problems whatsoever (pap smears). I am in general good health, with no heart, respiratory, etc problems. So I don't think it's a health thing, just something I need practice on to increase, muscular (tissue?) endurance. Unfortunately...due to circumstances, schedules, geographical location and etc... I see him about once a week on average. Most of the time it leads to sex, but not all of the time (e.g. when we're out together with friends, or sometimes when we just can't for other reasons). Sex (and thus, practice) occurs at said once-a-week frequency, sometimes less. (This past week we had sex for the first time in a month and wow, that burned afterwards. Normally the burning feeling dies in a few minutes, but that one lasted at least 10 or 15.)

As for stretching myself, I have tried, but two fingers (comfortable) or even three fingers (uncomfortable, both for my hands and my vagina) doesn't quite replicate the situation, plus is really uncomfortable for my hands.

Is this something I can tough out with time? Any particular exercises I can try? I have a fantastic relationship with this guy in and out of the bedroom and he's never given me any hints of grief whatsoever about this. Still, the point of life is to constantly improve, right? =)

NB for possible relevance: Canadian, broke student.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Anecdotal, but my sex experiences were pretty close to yours until I eventually went off the pill. Turns out that what I thought was plenty wet was actually not very wet at all, compared to how sex is without the pill for me. This was always exacerbated by semen, so if he's ejaculating inside you, try having him pull out just to see if there's an improvement there. You might try using lubricated condoms, as they can add just a bit more lube.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:09 PM on March 29, 2010

you need a dildo to practice with - heck, i'd ask him for this for the next present he buys you, that way you can practice with him even when he's not around. i would actually suggest trying less lube while practicing to see if it feels any better. i get way more raw there when lube is involved. i also get almost too wet just on my own, so sometimes stopping and just giving myself a quick wipe with a towel (or tshirt) can give me another 10 minutes of fun. for me it seems to be a sweat+any other moisture problem.
posted by nadawi at 3:10 PM on March 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Beware, TMI to follow.

I had this same problem when I was first married. The only thing that made it better was time, almost like muscle memory when you're learning to play an instrument. (Not that I play an instrument, it's just the only analogy that I could think of.)

The thing that worked for me was girl on top. We would start in the missionary position and then when things got uncomfortable we'd flip and I'd 'take over'. Something about the change in position would ease the discomfort. Sometimes we'd flip back to let my guy finish on top.

It took a good six months for things to stretch out enough to be comfortable long term. The good news is that lots of practice is a really good thing!
posted by FootInMouthDisease at 3:16 PM on March 29, 2010

When I was trying to figure out why sex was painful for more I went through this 'causes of painful sex' list and figured out what sounded like my symptoms.

I ended up being diagnosed with vulvodynia (aka vulvar vestibulitis, provoked vestibulodynia). Since you say that the pain is only external, you might have it as well, but there are certainly other possible causes. You can get a lot further than I can, so we certainly don't sound identical. The diagnosis is really easy to make if you have a doctor who knows what they are doing; they just poke you with a q-tip, you say that it hurts and that's it. If you want to find a doctor who knows about vulvodynia in Halifax, Southern Ontario or Vancouver, send me a message. I've also written about vulvodynia on here before as have other people, so have a look. I know a lot more now than when I wrote those posts, so ask if you have questions. Oh, the other thing I was going to mention was that one in six women will experience chronic pelvic pain at some point in their lives and one in 10 will meet the description of vulvodynia so you're certainly not alone!
posted by carolr at 5:06 PM on March 29, 2010 [2 favorites]

Barring a medical problem, I think you should just grit your teeth and try go past that 2 min mark and see how it feels at 5 min. I remember doing that when I first became sexually active - it hurt a fair amount, but after a while it just didn't. You might compare it to one of those massages where the knots hurt like hell at first, then you relax and it stops hurting.

You could also try drinking lightly or taking something to relax you, plus you could try dabbing the area with a small amount of numbing cream (like the oragel cream for toothaches, or some sort of numbing anal lube from a store or web site).
posted by meepmeow at 5:57 PM on March 29, 2010

Another anecdote, but I had the exact situation that PhoBWanKenobi describes. Since I stopped the NuvaRing and got a copper IUD (Paragard), sex is miles and away better.
posted by bookdragoness at 6:08 PM on March 29, 2010

You could also try drinking lightly or taking something to relax you,

Emphasis added, because alcohol encourages dehydration, which is happy-naked-fun-time's enemy. you could try dabbing the area with a small amount of numbing cream (like the oragel cream for toothaches, or some sort of numbing anal lube from a store or web site).

In general, this sounds like a Bad Idea(tm), because you are cutting off your body's only real way of communicating that Something Is Wrong Down Here!!!! Torn tissue, for instance.

If your lube is spermicidal, it may be irritating you.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:43 PM on March 29, 2010

Have you talked to your OB/GYN? We can give anecdotal advice, but she (or he) can take a look and listen to what you have to say. A doctor who specializes in women's reproductive systems and all of the... accouterments is almost certainly going to have encountered this before.
posted by tzikeh at 6:55 PM on March 29, 2010

Er - meant to say, have you talked to your OB/GYN about this? Pap smears (and speculum use) really aren't going to tell you anything about something that hurts after a few minutes of intercourse.
posted by tzikeh at 6:56 PM on March 29, 2010

As someone with a medically diagnosed issue with similar symptoms to yours, I do not suggest "gritting your teeth" and seeing how you can do after a few more minutes. I did this for, oh, three years, and it never got better. Talk to your OB/GYN. As carolr said, it's easy to find out if there's an actual medical problem like vulvodynia. It might be something that will get better with time, but you're waaaaay better off finding this out now instead of being in pain indefinitely.
posted by ishotjr at 8:26 PM on March 29, 2010

Just wanted to chime in that I had a pretty much identical experience with my first. To the burning sensation and everything. And I don't have any medical condition. I didn't get to feel less sore in bed until my second (what changed? I don't really know). And it wasn't anything inherent about the first guy, cause when I later had sex with him again it felt great!

So I think the moral here is that practice (more than a year of it?) makes perfect. Or maybe a diversification of experience helps. Or something.

PS Try without lube.. I find that it tends me make me feel more burny.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 9:40 PM on March 29, 2010

Some more thoughts:

I can't really comment on not using lube but you should experiment with different kinds of lube too. Astroglide really wasn't the best kind for me; it also made me feel burning sometimes. If you're in a big enough city, go to the women-friendly sex store and they should have lots of samples, maybe even something like this. FWIW, hathor aphrodesia is my favourite.

Be really careful with numbing cream. I've used 2% lidocaine and it just makes it burn later. Ice afterwards can be very soothing though.

Remember that there are lots of other things you can do. It helps to realize that there is more to sex than intercourse. One idea for the two of you is to put his penis between your legs for a bit, only putting it inside you when he's close. Have fun experimenting!
posted by carolr at 10:06 PM on March 29, 2010

Silicone lube can seem wet but still leave you feeling friction burned. Try using a gloopy water-based lube instead, like Maximus.
posted by Eshkol at 10:33 PM on March 29, 2010

You are me. Ask your OB to look for signs of lichen sclerosus, which can thin the skin so much around there that it tears. It may sound weird but regular OB visits they're not usually looking that closely unless you *tell* them exactly what's going on. I had a one inch recurring tear in the skin that completely escaped detection by multiple OBs until I actually mentioned that I was having pain.
posted by media_itoku at 1:44 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

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