Sex hurts my girlfriend: how do I fix it?

I'm a 16 year-old male and me and my girlfriend have been going out for about 5 months. We have recently started having vaginal sex and were both a bit confused. We were both virgins so we have no prior knowledge of having sex. When we had intercourse she said that she was feeling pain when I put my penis in only an inch or so. We figured it was just since it was her 1st time. We tried again last night and she had the same problem. She was very upset and I did my best to comfort her. Is the pain normal? What can I do to let her enjoy sex? How is it supposed to feel for her? Another problem was that she said that she felt and itchy irritation while I had my penis in her, and it itched her urinating the next day or 2. I was wearing a Trojan brand spermicide lubricated condom. Could she be allergic to the condoms we used? If so what she we try instead? Are the alternative condoms as efficient? Is there any other over the counter type of protection, other than a condom and spermicide, to protect against pregnancy? She refuses to take "the pill", is afraid of a morning after pill, and we can't go to a doctor to get something made for her to wear because if our parents discover we are having sex, than we wont ever see each other. PLEASE HELP!!! Any help would be greatly appreciated, and would make both our lives much better!!! Thanks!
Heather Corinna replies:

Jako: let's work backwards with your questions.

For starters, her itchiness may have been irritation from either the condom OR the spermicide. Spermicides are essentially dish soap, and genital tissue is delicate, so you can imagine that for a lot of people, it doesn't feel so good. Since irritation to spermicides is far more common than latex allergies, I'd start by ditching the spermicides first.

That doesn't have to mean less protection against pregnancy: in fact, the spermicide on condoms is so little it's not a big help anyway, spermicides aren't that effective, and to boot, if your condom is used properly and doesn't fail, a spermicide doesn't even get a chance to work as it is. And if a condom DID fail or break, it'd still be advisable to go and get emergency contraception, since relying on that little bit of spermicide alone to prevent pregnancy wouldn't be wise.

So, I'd suggest starting by switching to condoms without spermicide, and being sure when you buy those to buy a bottle of lubricant to use with them: not only does that help keep condoms from breaking, upping their efficacy, it also is often a big deal in making condoms -- and intercourse, full-stop -- feel better for everyone. For more info on how to use condoms with a lubricant, and how to use condoms properly, click here.

For more information (you may want to print this out for her so she's more informed and less scared) on emergency contraception, check out this and this.

And if it seems next time that even without the spermicides she's still itchy, then the next step -- in case it is a latex allergy -- would be to try a polyurethane (non-latex) condom: there are a few on the market, and you can almost always find at least one brand in your local pharmacy: the Avanti by Durex and the Supra by Trojans are both non-latex and protect just as well as latex ones.


It's really important that whatever methods you use, you're both comfortable with. So, if a condom alone isn't safe enough for her, and she's also not okay with using EC, then before y'all have intercourse again, she's going to need to talk to a sexual healthcare provider about her other options. There ARE more options than birth control pills and condoms, after all, but in terms of over-the-counter methods, condoms are about the only good one you've got. She can get sexual healthcare and birth control of many types without parental permission or notification, and if she's sexually active, she really needs to be getting that healthcare -- with pap smears and STI tests -- at least once each year, regardless -- so do you (save the pap smear part: people with penises don't get those).

Too, we really never advise having sex as a minor when parents are strongly against it. They really will likely find out eventually, and the fact that you both lied will only make things even worse. So, I'd strongly encourage you to either abstain until you're out of the house and on your own and it is okay, or to be honest with your parents.

Phew! On to your first question.

Intercourse all by itself just isn't that wonderful for a majority of people with vaginas. So, I'm not sure if you two are also engaging in other sexual activities before or during sexual intercourse for her -- things like whole-body massages or petting, oral sex for her, manual sex ("fingering") for her that's as much about her clitoris and whole vulva as it is about her vagina -- but if you are not, that's likely part of the problem: and probably a big part.

Too, though, it sounds like your girlfriend is really scared of pregnancy. That's a valid fear, but being anxious or nervous about things like that during any kind of sex keeps us from getting or staying fully sexually aroused. Just as full sexual arousal for you is vital to intercourse 'working" and feeling good -- without it, you can't get an erection -- it's equally important for her. Without it, her vulva and vagina won't self-lubricate, loosen and get sensitive for things to feel good. When a woman is nervous, too, the vagina tends to clamp down and stay too tight for intercourse to feel good. Since there are a lot of fears going on here: worry about pregnancy, worry about parents finding out, for instance, it's likely that intercourse (and possibly other kinds of sex, too) is NOT going to be anything but painful until those fears are taken care of.

So, again, it's pretty important that if you're going to have sex, she feels safe and relaxed: that may be having a birth control method that she feels good about, and/or it may also mean halting the sex until there's not a pervasive fear of parents finding out and splitting you two up.

Here are a few extra pieces on all of that which may be of use to you -- and again, you may want to share these with your girlfriend as well, and talk about these things together:

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