15 June 2001
Not Sure About Sex
Q: Dear Dr Love,
I imagine a lot of your letters start this way, but I've got to say, I can't believe I'm writing to someone about this! I'm a 20 year old girl and frankly, very confused about sex. Until late last year I was a virgin, and I lost my virginity under not great circumstances (I wasn't forced, I just wasn't ready and it was with a guy I didn't care about). I haven't had a lot of experience with guys, but I've had some. I have a boyfriend now and while he wants to have sex and is ready to wait for me, I still don't know if I'm ready. Also, the last time I had an incredible amount of pain. I know that some pain is normal, but both times it felt like I was being torn apart, and I am afraid that this will happen again. I don't know if it is a physical problem or an emotional problem, but if you have any advice, I'd love to hear it.
A: I'm glad you felt you were able to write to me about your situation and I hope I can help. Most women report that their first sexual experience was disappointing but it seems to be more than that with you. It's possible that your first sexual encounter incurred some damage, which would explain the pain you've felt since during intercourse. Sure some pain is normal the first time you have sex but there certainly shouldn't be pain after that. I think a medical check-up would be in your best interest. The other possibility is that you have a particularly tough hymen, which can happen. It takes several goes to penetrate and tear it. You may even technically be still a virgin! All this would be revealed by an examination from a specialist so do that first. Otherwise, it could be that you suffered some emotional damage in your first sexual encounter and that explains your reluctance to keep trying to enjoy sex, which of course you have a right to do. If this latter suggestion is the case, you'll need to talk to a therapist so that it doesn't affect you forever. You're just at the start of your sex life and you don't want the past to have a negative hold on you. You have a patient and loving boyfriend so give yourself the best chance for happiness with him and your own body.