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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Seeking Pleasure, Not Pain

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Author Topic: Seeking Pleasure, Not Pain
Sympatheia
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I'd like to begin by thanking everyone at this site for their information and help - "From OW! to WOW!" is a great article and has lead me to using water-based lubricant with my partner, requesting more foreplay before sexual intercourse, and doing my best to empty my mind and stay calm.

Unfortunately, for me, I believe I am still in the stage where I am acclimating to sex. By that, I mean each time my partner thrusts himself into me, I feel the same level of bearable, but irritable, pain. The pain lessens somewhat with each attempt, but I feel there are things I could be doing in my own time to better prepare my body for sexual activity before the event; my partner is, ahem, large, and from our various attempts, I'm guessing that my hymen is fairly thick. Even fingering was initially extremely painful for me until I used lube.

Masturbation has been recommended to me. I was raised Catholic, and while I have since dealt with my shift in views (I am now agnostic), what this means for me is that I've associated penetrative sexual activity (fingering, etc) mostly with a partner, rather than as one-on-one activity. But, I do think this could help get my body used to the sensation of sex, and I want to get there.

Are there any methods or toys that would be especially beneficial to this? I've been told over time it gets better with experience, and I trust that, but it's hard to keep going for longer than a few minutes when it hurts the way it does.

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Robin Lee
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Hi Sympatheia,

I'm glad to hear you found the information helpful, and that you've come here for more help and support.

If your partner is able to penetrate, it is unlikely that your hymen, or what we call the corona, is the issue here.

If I'm going over material you're already familiar with, either from our site or other sources, I apologize in advance for the repetition. [Smile]

The corona is a membrane at the opening of the vagina. A thick corona would mean that penetration likely wouldn't be possible. Here's some more information for you to read what I'm talking about.

My Corona: The Anatomy Formerly Known as the Hymen & the Myths That Surround It

While I certainly can't say for sure, I'm suspecting that most of the pain you're experiencing is likely from muscular tention. The muscles around the vagina are, in most people, pretty strong, and if they're not fully relaxed, penetration can be difficult.


I think your idea of exploring your own body is a useful one, not only because it can help you get used to things being inside your vagina, but because it can help you learn about your body in general. There really aren't any specific techniques that would be more helpful to you than just exploring with your hands (with plenty of lube) and seeing what works for you. You've said that this is an activity you most often attribute to partnered sex. Is it something you feel like you can do on your own?

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Robin

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Sympatheia
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Ohh, thank you! I do think I had a misunderstanding about the hymen, so thank you for clearing that up. [Smile] (And repetition is fine, it's completely possible I've missed something in my reading!)

I do think it's possible that when the act is initiated, I tense up from anticipating more pain. I like to think I don't, but if I am being honest with myself, I do get nervous and want to perform better, which would get in the way of being fully relaxed. I think I try to convince myself I'm relaxed which makes it difficult to tell if I am or not? Clearly if I'm thinking too much that's not helping. Oi.

I think I could do it, but it definitely feels counter-intuitive to finger myself. Usually I masturbate by sort of rubbing or massaging the vulva area, which I am comfortable with, but I've always avoided self-entry. I can overcome it, I know I can, it'll just require some self-confidence and lube. And practice. I think if I try a little bit every day maybe I'll get more attuned to it?

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Robin Lee
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Trying something a little bit at a time is usually a helpful way to not feel so overwhelmed by it, not just the physical act but the idea of it as well.

Do you want to talk about what's making you nervous and wanting to "perform better?"

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Robin

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Sympatheia
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I think you're right. I'm very grateful that we started out with other things the five months before we tried intercourse. I think that alone did a lot to help with my anxiety, even though I'm still not all the way there yet.

This is my first sexual relationship. Three years ago, I had my last relationship, which fell apart for many reasons, but one of them was that at the time, I was grappling with my religion and my sexuality being at odds. This led to me indignantly saying "no" to every suggestion from him that was sexual in nature, not because I didn't want to do those things, but because I was scared that I -did- want to, and seeing myself as a sexual person was strangely terrifying.

After that break-up, I decided I wanted to be sure of what I wanted or didn't want, and concluded that waiting until marriage was not for me (which was very hard to admit). I started to masturbate after several years of not doing so (I had a break-down in confession about it when I was 12 and learned that it was a mortal sin, which effectively stopped me from masturbating throughout most of my teens). I read up on sexuality, asked myself questions about what I would do if I had pre-marital sex with a partner and later broke up with them, honestly questioned myself if I'd regret engaging in pre-marital sex and if so, why that was, etc. So mentally, I'd gone through a lot of barriers before meeting my current partner.

He's been in several sexual relationships before me. I'm the first person he's been with who had no sexual experience going into a relationship - and he entered the relationship knowing this about me. He knows how weird I've been about sex in the past, and has never pushed me to do anything (or even referred to me as a "virgin" which has really, really helped in the self-esteem department - he'd say "since this is new for you" or "since this is your first time doing this"). He's always helped make consent clear, and actively encouraged me to communicate things that I was initially just too shy to admit to (things like if I want to be fingered, or what kinds of foreplay I want to engage in, etc). Several times before the first time, we'd start to move towards intercourse and I'd flinch at the last second and say "No I can't do this I can't do this" and he'd just hold me and say I didn't have to just yet, then. And he'd hold me and ask what was on my mind, and we'd talk about why I was nervous, and we'd finish each other off in other ways (manual sex, usually).

I've admitted this to him, but the only thing I'm ever jealous about of his exes is the fact that they could have sex with him and enjoy it, and so far I can't. I feel bad mostly because I can see how hurting me makes him feel bad. Once he sees that it's hurting me, he stops and asks if there's anything he can do, if there's anything I'd like. He reminds me that being naked doesn't have to be sexual, that it can be just romantic sometimes, too. He also has said not to compare myself sexually to his exes, that the only person he wants to have sex with right now is me, and he only wants to do that when I want to. I care very much about him, and when he says things like this, I trust him wholeheartedly.

I guess, in short, I really want to make this nice for us. I want him to feel that he's making me happy, instead of hurting me. I'm always afraid it'll go badly, mostly because I'm just so desperate for it go well so I can feel normal. Which is silly, I know a lot of people go through what I am, so I -am- normal. I just don't feel like it sometimes. When it hurts, I feel so defeated I want to start crying.

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Robin Lee
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It's pretty frustrating, isn't it, when we can't make our bodies do the things we want them to do.

It sounds like you've done a lot of thinking about this and perhaps you'd hoped that all the mental gymnastics you've gone through figuring out if sex is right for you right now would be more helpful when it came to actually engaging in partnered sexual activities. In case you have been thinking that, pleaes know that the challenges you're having right now don't mean you're broken or defficient in any way, or that you didn't do enough work on this before. It's never possible to anticipate exactly what things are going to be like for us.

Furthermore, sexual experiences can be different with different partners. So, just because your boyfriend has been sexually involved with other people in the past, doesn't necessarily make him a sexual "expert"--one whose expectations you have to measure up to in some way. It would be unrealistic of him to expect sex with you to be like sex with other people, and not because it's your first time engaging in many of the activities you've engaged in, but because you're uniquely you.

I wonder if it would help to adjust your thinking on intercourse a little bit. Intercourse isn't the be-all-and-end-all of sexual activities--not by any stretch of the imagination. So, your difficulty in engaging in intercourse right now because of the pain doesn't make you a bad or deficient sexual partner. As you already know, intercourse is just one of the very many things partners can engage in.

We have a couple of articles that I think might be helpful to you. I'm also wondering whether it might take the pressure off of you to take intercourse off the menu of activities you and your partner enjoy while you're figuring this out for yourself?

Yield for Pleasure

With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body

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Robin

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Sympatheia
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quote:
Originally posted by Robin Lee:
It's pretty frustrating, isn't it, when we can't make our bodies do the things we want them to do.

It sounds like you've done a lot of thinking about this and perhaps you'd hoped that all the mental gymnastics you've gone through figuring out if sex is right for you right now would be more helpful when it came to actually engaging in partnered sexual activities. In case you have been thinking that, pleaes know that the challenges you're having right now don't mean you're broken or defficient in any way, or that you didn't do enough work on this before. It's never possible to anticipate exactly what things are going to be like for us.

Thank you, I think I needed to hear that. It's funny, I feel like I knew that deep down, but it's so relieving to have someone tell you it. Honestly I have been feeling ashamed of myself. Thank you for telling me I don't have to be.

quote:
Furthermore, sexual experiences can be different with different partners. So, just because your boyfriend has been sexually involved with other people in the past, doesn't necessarily make him a sexual "expert"--one whose expectations you have to measure up to in some way. It would be unrealistic of him to expect sex with you to be like sex with other people, and not because it's your first time engaging in many of the activities you've engaged in, but because you're uniquely you.
I think it's mostly been me expecting things to be more streamlined and uniform, and me viewing him in that unfair light. You're right, I'm being too hard on myself, and consequently hard on him by seeing him that way.

quote:
I wonder if it would help to adjust your thinking on intercourse a little bit. Intercourse isn't the be-all-and-end-all of sexual activities--not by any stretch of the imagination. So, your difficulty in engaging in intercourse right now because of the pain doesn't make you a bad or deficient sexual partner. As you already know, intercourse is just one of the very many things partners can engage in.

We have a couple of articles that I think might be helpful to you. I'm also wondering whether it might take the pressure off of you to take intercourse off the menu of activities you and your partner enjoy while you're figuring this out for yourself?

Yield for Pleasure

With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body

I've been thinking about this. I think I'm going to ask him if from now on, until I feel more comfortable about entry, I can be the one to initiate whether or not we have intercourse. Generally I find I'm more into it when I don't feel I'm being prodded in that direction; I'm more relaxed when it's just fooling around, there's less pressure somehow. He likes it when I'm the one to initiate things, and he doesn't like doing anything I seem unsure about, so I think he'll be fine with this. He's already said to me that our relationship isn't founded on sex, and if we don't have it when I don't want to have it, that's fine (which should be true in general but it's nice to hear anyway).

Thank you for the articles. I'll certainly read through them. [Smile]

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Robin Lee
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I absolutely hear you on it being nice to hear reassurance from your boyfriend and it sounds like having some more control over this aspect of your sexual life is a relief to you.

Please don't feel shy to come back if you need to talk about this some more, or have other thoughts come up that you'd like to share or figure out with someone.

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Robin

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Sympatheia
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This might sound silly but I feel the need to tell you that these changes have been going very well for me even though it's just been a few days.

I've relaxed a lot more and enjoyed foreplay and manual sex to a greater extent than I have previously. I've been encouraging conversation more with my partner and it's also made me relax more, hearing affirmation that everything is okay, that I'm okay, that what we're doing is okay. I want it, and enjoy it, a lot more already.

So, thanks for getting me to slow down. I think this is helping. [Smile]

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Sympatheia
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Er, "it" referring to the sexual life we have without intercourse thus far. (Can't find how to edit posts.)
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Robin Lee
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I am so so glad to hear this! Yay and double yay! [Smile]

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Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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