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Girlfriend putting pressure on herself to lose virginity

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nimpup asks:

My fiance and I are trying to have intercourse. But she can't do it, she's still a virgin and has her hymen. It's too painful for her. The most I can get in is about three inches and she has told me that's about how deep her hymen is. She really wants to give her virginity to me and I really want to be able to please her like that. We don't know why it's so painful for her but she reacts like she's being stabbed in the stomach with a sword. She told me that it feels like I'm killing her when I try to push past that three inches. I asked my older brother about this and he said that maybe that's just how deep she is and after that three inches I'm hitting her cervix.

Johanna Schorn replies:

Nimpup's question continues:

I know I could go down there and check but, I get too turned on when I see inside it and I just to want to have sex right then and there, so it's very hard for me to look for her. We've tried burning incense that is supposed to help stimulate us but it seems to only stimulate me. We've tried using those Trojan Ecstasy condoms because of their special lube on them, but still no good. We have tried stimulating her more through rubbing and sucking her nipples as well as the special spot on her neck, even sucking and licking her down there, but it doesn't seem to matter how wet she is, it's still too hard for me to push farther when it hurts her so much. I can't stand to see her in so much pain and it nearly brings her to tears, which nearly brings me to tears. The other night she had drank three Smirnoff's and when she insisted that we try again, it didn't her as much. She thinks that if we just get her drunk then it won't hurt at all and we will finally be able to do it. I don't want to have to get her drunk. I don't feel right about that, even if she wants me to do it I still feel like I'd be taking advantage of her. She want's to lose it to me so badly she cries about it at night, but the pain is unbearable for her. We've also noticed that she is incredibly tender down there. Could that be because she still has her hymen? I don't know what to do and I'm really worried for her. Please help me if you can.

There are several things that I'd like to say here, so let's start with the idea of virginity, and the issue of the hymen (which we now call the corona). You say your partner has stated that her corona is about three inches into her vagina: that's not really likely, as the corona is actually just barely inside the entrance of the vaginal canal. Additionally, the corona is not an actual barrier that would be capable of physically blocking your entry. Instead, the corona is a very thin, very stretchy membrane. For the most part, it is also no longer fully intact by the time most women become sexually active. The corona wears away over time due to several factors, such as menstruation, hormonal changes, or physical activity. This also means that 'breaking the corona' isn't something that happens all in one go with first-time intercourse. It is a gradual process. And since the corona itself does not have any nerve endings, this process also should not be terribly painful.

There are some cases in which the corona can be more resistant, and not wear away on its own. However, since this would also often block blood-flow from menstruation, it is unlikely that this would be the case with your partner. Still, if she is concerned that her corona may be a part of the problem here, then it would be a good idea for her to make an appointment with her gynecologist. And if she has not yet started up her regular reproductive health care, that's a smart thing to start doing, anyway. That person is also in a better position to examine her, both because that isn't a sexual situation and because they have the education to know what to look for, something you don't have yourself.

What all of this means is that there is no inherent reason that first-time intercourse or other vaginal entry should be a particularly painful endeavor. When entry is painful for a woman, it is most often because she is not fully relaxed and aroused and/or because she is not using enough extra lubricant and/or because her partner is not going slowly and carefully. Any of this can happen on the first, or the tenth or the hundredth time. The reason why a lot of people associate pain and discomfort with the first time is simply because a lot of women are nervous during their first time, and nervousness can lead to a lack of arousal and full relaxation.

Now, since the corona doesn't "break" during first-time intercourse, this also leads us to view the idea of virginity in a different light. Virginity is not a medical or legal concept at all, and there is no one definition for it that holds true for everyone. Instead, virginity is a social concept and everyone has their own definition for it. It is a very loaded term in our society, associated with a lot of really big concepts and strong emotions, and it's no wonder that your partner attaches so much importance to it. It may help her, and you, to define what virginity really means to you. How do either of you define virginity? What meaning does it hold in your lives? What do you feel would change once she has "lost" her virginity?

Our society attaches a lot of importance to intercourse, especially to first-time intercourse, and a lot of people come away with the idea that it is somehow inherently more meaningful and intimate than any other sexual activity. This leaves a lot of people with very high expectations about intercourse, and with the idea that it will magically be better and more special than anything else that they've done before, and that it will fundamentally alter their relationship and who they are. However, there is really no reason why we should view intercourse in that light. All other sexual activity has the ability to be just as special, or meaningful, or create just as much intimacy. Additionally, intercourse isn't automatically more pleasurable than any other sexual activity: what someone ends up liking best and getting the most pleasure from is up entirely to individual tastes, and plenty of people wind up preferring other sexual activities over intercourse.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I think that your partner would benefit from seeing all of this in a different light. It sounds like she is putting a lot of pressure on herself to 'lose her virginity' and attaching a lot of meaning to that act. And as you probably understand by now, putting pressure on yourself is not conducive to being relaxed and aroused, and able to fully enjoy sexual activity.

So here's my advice to the two of you: As suggested above, it would probably a good idea for your girlfriend to start by seeing her gynecologist. While a physical cause for your problems is unlikely, it's still always safer to cover all of your bases.

Next, I would suggest that you both take a step back from trying to have intercourse. For one thing, there is no point in continuing to try and engage in a sexual activity that's just not working out for you two right now. There is nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't mean that you'll never be able to have intercourse. It just means that, for now, it's not working out, and it would be best to accept that for the moment and take a step back. For another, if you continue to try and engage in in sexual activity that is painful for your partner, she may start to expect the pain, which would only cause her to tense up more and thus be much more likely to experience pain.

I also cannot emphasize enough that you are right in not wanting to engage in sexual activity with her while she is drunk. For one thing, someone who is intoxicated cannot give full consent. For another, it's just not very healthy or sound to resort to intoxication to "get it over with." Tricking your body into doing something it's clearly not wanting at any given time isn't very likely to actually aid the situation. And since, again, pain can occur at any time, not just the first time, it's also not guaranteed that that approach would really get you any further. On top of that, alcohol can actually inhibit the body from full arousal and proper sexual function, so getting drunk to make things work right is often totally counterproductive.

Instead of focusing on intercourse so much, the two of you can focus on some other things: that is, on sexual activities that you both enjoy and that you both receive pleasure from. Try to leave the pressure to perform outside the bedroom door and just focus on pleasure, rather than one specific activity. Just have some fun, okay? That's what all sex is supposed to be about, anyway. :)

I am going to link you to a few articles in a little bit, that I think you and your partner should take a look at. I hope that they will help you to understand the female anatomy better, as well as spark some thoughts and conversations about the meaning of virginity.

When you both feel ready to return to intercourse, make sure that you are going slowly. Make sure that your partner is completely relaxed and aroused, and make sure to use lots of extra lube. If she experiences pain, stop immediately. Try not to make it such a big deal, because it really isn't. You can always come back to it some other time.

written 20 Feb 2010 . updated 21 Feb 2010

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