I like having sex, but sometimes it hurts. What’s going on?

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Someone asked us:

This will sound silly, but I want to have better sex with my boyfriend. Sometimes I hurt inside, like he’s pushing too far in. I mean, I like having sex, I just hate that feeling. What is going on and is there anything I can do to make it better?

It is definitely NOT silly to want to have sex without pain!

There are a few things that could be causing this discomfort, depending on what type of sex you’re having.

If you’re having vaginal sex, certain vaginal infections or STDs can cause pain during intercourse, so it’s a good idea to check in with a doctor or nurse to rule out any of those things. More likely though, it’s just a normal thing that sometimes happens during sex. Having pain further in your vagina, up by your cervix, can happen if your partner’s penis goes in too deep, hits your cervix from a certain angle, or is a size or shape that just so happens to feel uncomfortable in some places in your vagina. This is quite common — remember that everyone’s body is different and fits with other bodies differently.  Solving this may be as simple as him only putting his penis in your vagina as deep as it’s comfortable for you, going slower, and/or trying different positions (especially ones where you control how deep his penis goes in, like you being on top). 

Some people also have discomfort during vaginal penetration if there’s not enough lubrication (which is nobody’s fault – needing a lot of time for natural lubrication is very normal). So you could try more foreplay before moving onto sex (like kissing, touching, etc.) Store-bought lube can also help with vaginal discomfort and – bonus! – make condoms feel and work better.

Speaking of lube: if you’re having anal sex, lube is an absolute MUST. Anuses don’t self-lubricate the way vaginas do, so anal penetration without lubrication can result in pain, discomfort, and even tearing that may increase your STD risk. It’s also very important to be relaxed and go slow. Your boyfriend should check in with you to make sure you’re enjoying yourself and feeling good, and you should feel free to communicate with him if anything hurts.  

And that brings me to my main suggestion: no matter what, talk with your boyfriend. Tell him exactly what you told me – that you like having sex with him, but sometimes it hurts. He won’t know you’re in pain unless you tell him, and he should want to fix this as much as you do! Communicating your likes, dislikes, wants, and needs about sex to your partner doesn’t mean you’re a bad match or that either of you suck at sex; it means you really like, trust, and want to please each other. It’s an effective and healthy way to make your relationship – and your sex – better.  So get to talkin’! 

-Kendall at Planned Parenthood