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Common Health Questions

NHS website - Is sex painful the first time?

Is sex painful the first time?

When a woman has vaginal sex for the first time, it can be a little painful. You may also have some bleeding, but this isn't always the case. If bleeding happens, it's usually because your hymen has been broken during sexual intercourse.

The hymen is a small, thin piece of skin that can either partially or totally cover the entrance to your vagina. You may have already broken your hymen without knowing about it – for example, when playing sports or using a tampon.

When a man has sex for the first time, it shouldn't hurt, but you can make it easier for your partner through foreplay, making sure there's plenty of lubrication, and by being gentle and going slowly.

Anal sex

Anal sex can be painful for men and women the first time, and there may be a little bleeding.

There are things you can do to lessen any pain, such as slow penetration and using a lot of water-based lubrication. Some people find that inserting fingers into the anus before penetration can help.

Pain during sex

Pain during sex is quite common, and affects men and women. It can be caused by a variety of things, such as an illness or infection, or a physical or psychological problem.

Sex may be uncomfortable if you're not relaxed and aroused. Make time for foreplay and try not to think of penetrative sex as the main goal. Penetration will be painful if the vagina is not lubricated. You can also try using lubrication.

If you're using polyurethane condoms that aren't made of latex, any kind of lubricant is fine. But don't use oil-based lubricants – such as lotion, body oil or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) – with latex or polyisoprene condoms because they can damage the condom and make it more likely to split.

If you're still finding it difficult to have sex, there may be an emotional reason, or anxiety could be causing problems. It may help to speak to a counsellor or sex therapist about any worries you have. Ask a GP or healthcare professional at a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic about a referral.

Common infections such as thrush and cystitis can also cause pain during sex. They can be easily treated with over-the-counter remedies.

See a GP or visit a GUM clinic if you're not sure what's causing the problem. Feeling sore or itchy can sometimes be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Find your local sexual health clinic.

Pain deep inside the pelvis (pain felt below your belly button) can be a sign of a more serious condition, such as endometriosis, so it's important to see a GP to get it checked out.

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