I did part 1 of this last week, if you’d like to check that out first then just go here. I’ll be right here waiting for you.
The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the vaginal opening. It’s a very elastic structure so it doesn’t have to be ‘broken’ for each first intercourse. It’s not linked to virginity, because due to its elasticity, breakage may not occur and intercourse may still happen. At times, the hymen can also break much before the first intercourse through other physical activities, or may wear away with age or may not exist in some women at all, and therefore should not be linked to virginity.
2. Is bleeding after sex ever normal? If yes, for how long should I expect it? Is it also linked to virginity?
A small amount of bleeding after first time intercourse can be normal. Mild spotting can last upto 3-4 days and is not unduly painful or uncomfortable. In some cases, it can even go up to a week but not beyond that. If bleeding is heavy and/or with clots, it should be immediately referred to a medical expert.
However, bleeding with first time intercourse varies across individuals so that too is not linked to virginity. It may occur when the hymen tears, but that’s not necessary; the hymen can tear without bleeding, or may not tear at all (as mentioned in the previous question). Bleeding may also happen if one of the partners is suffering from an STD or a vaginal infection. It can also occur if the intercourse is performed without adequate foreplay and the female is not aroused/sexually excited, leading to inadequate loosening/insufficient self-lubrication of the vaginal opening, due to which vaginal walls can suffer from abrasions and cause bleeding (upon stimulation the vagina typically produces a liquid to moisten the walls and prepare for penetration). If sex is forced (due to any kind of societal pressure) or is rough, that can also lead to vaginal tears and cause bleeding.
3. I am scared to have sex for the first time because of all the personal accounts I have heard and read about it being extremely painful.
First time intercourse may be slightly uncomfortable or even mildly painful but this varies across individuals. The pain is not always linked to the breakage of the hymen, since women who have no substantial hymens may also experience pain during first time intercourse. The pain can be due to insufficient stimulation which means that the female is not aroused enough for the vagina to self-lubricate and naturally loosen for penetrative sex to occur. If the vagina fails to sufficiently self-lubricate regularly, this can be linked to hormonal reasons which should be investigated through an expert.
Additionally, this is also dependent on the relationship between the two partners. Forced sex will be highly painful. If the partners have good understanding and patience, it’s not something that should cause pain. Nervousness and anxiety can contribute to an uncomfortable experience, so it’s best to relax and not overthink it. Any discomfort should not last beyond a couple of days. If you experience severe pain, consult an expert immediately.
4. Is there anything I can do on my own to prepare myself for first time sex?
Psychological preparation is very important. Sex is a natural process and is an intimate and pleasurable experience between two partners that should be approached similarly. Good communication before the intercourse can help substantially where you can discuss with your partner and plan for ways to make it more comfortable. Lubricants can help to decrease dryness so you can keep some on hand. Anxiety and fear can also cause dryness due to which your body will not respond during stimulation the way it naturally should and make intercourse comfortable. This can be handled through communication, patience and giving each other adequate time and foreplay.
5. Is it safe to have sex during your period?
This is a personal preference. But in case of an unknown sexual partner, the risk of sexually transmitted infections is higher during your menstrual cycle. So this needs to be performed with adequate care. It’s recommended to have intercourse when you are off your period.
6. Is oral sex dangerous?
No. But the risk of transferring STDs and even HIV does exist with oral sex. Also, if there are any active lesions (any abnormality due to disease or injury) on the organs then the advice of a gynecologist or urologist may be necessary before such a practice.
7. If I cannot consummate my marriage despite having tried for many weeks/months, what should I do?
The process of intercourse takes time, and can take anywhere from a day to a week and even to a month. If it takes longer than that then it needs to be identified and addressed. There can be a number of reasons for this, for example, some women cannot allow penetrative sex because of a condition called vaginismus where you experience extreme pain and your vaginal muscles go into spasm during attempted intercourse. Also, if there are recurrent erection or ejaculation problems related to the male performance, these must also be addressed. Therefore, enough time and patience should be invested in the beginning and then specific concerns can be discussed with the gynecologist.
8. What do you recommend for someone who may have been a victim of sexual assault and is nervous about such a first time gynecologist appointment or first time voluntary intercourse?
Sexual assault is an unfortunate and highly stressful event but one that should not define subsequent chapters in your life. If you are continuing to suffer from anxiety and trauma following such an experience, this needs to be addressed, through a licensed expert. Anxiety is inevitable but consult a gynecologist who you can feel comfortable with and one who can provide reassurance during the examination. If you feel uncomfortable, you can always communicate this to your doctor and request them to handle your anxiety accordingly.
For this question, we have considered an individual who has suffered from sexual assault in their past, since a very recent experience needs to be reported and handled through various other steps first (a gynecologist should be immediately consulted to assess damage, give birth control if necessary and treat any potential infections).
For first time intercourse, it’s important to remember that this is an intimate experience with your partner that should not be avoided or be escaped from due to a prior, negative experience. You need to seek medical help prior to voluntary first-time intercourse so you’re mentally ready for such an experience.
9. If my husband-to-be has an STD, is there any way to know beforehand? If I find out post-marriage about an STD, what can be done to cure/manage it?
If your husband has an STD, it can be fully diagnosed and cured. You should consult a gynecologist, urologist or genito-urinary specialist to help with this, so they can investigate and start appropriate care ASAP. If you would like to clear this prior to first-time intercourse, these can easily be handled by a visit to the urologist before you’re married, who can rule out STDs with simple tests. If you find out this out after intercourse, you must immediately start a barrier contraceptive, like a condom. Your partner needs to start treatment immediately and barrier contraception must be continued until he is fully cured. You also need to get yourself inspected and take treatment, even if you are not suffering from symptoms after the intercourse, since sometimes the treatment is prophylactic (intended to prevent disease).
10. What prep/contribution is required from my future sexual partner before first time intercourse?
Premarital screening (which is a set of tests for the soon-to-be married) should be conducted which tests for infectious diseases like hepatitis B and C, humanpapillomavirus, syphilis, etc. Genetic blood diseases can also be identified like thalassemia, sickle cell anemia so you are aware of the carrier status and you can know what your children can get if both suffer from it. These tests can be done prior (and are actually mandatory in the UAE).
11. Is there less risk of pregnancy if I have sex within the few days after my period ends?
During your cycle, the risk of pregnancy always exists. It can never be zero. When you’re bleeding during yor period, that doesn’t mean that your egg is not growing (see Part 1 to understand your monthly cycle fully) and therefore you can be at risk of pregnancy. Contraception should be used at all times, even during your period, if pregnancy is not desired. Just around your period, the chance may be less for pregnancy to occur, however it’s not 100% risk free. No time in your monthly cycle is entirely risk free.
12. Are there any supplements I should be taking once I start having intercourse regularly?
If regular intercourse is being done to get pregnant then folic acid is very important. A 500 mg dose is recommended regularly, to accommodate those as well who may not be absorbing the drug properly. For genital health other supplements may be necessary but should always be in consultation with a physician.
13. If I want to have children after beginning birth control, what do I need to do?
Stop birth control. If you decide you don’t want to continue from the next cycle, just stop them. If you have an intra-uterine device (IUD) then go to the doctor to take it out. If any doubts, you can simply consult your gynecologist on the way forward.
14. If I didn’t book a gynecologist visit before my first intercourse, should I book it now?
Yes. You can still gain lots of information and education about your future sexual health, breast exams, contraception, pap smears, future fertility, so always definitely it’s worth going in.
All inputs in this post from Dr. Monika are based on typical scenarios. For any individual concerns, doubts or medical conditions, please make sure you check with a certified doctor before you execute anything. Myself or none of the partners in this post are responsible for any loss or damage incurred from following any advice contained within this post, without expert medical consultation. Basically don’t be stupid and consult an expert, I don’t want a lawsuit because I have no money.
1. If you’re anxious about going to a gynecologist for the first time because of the physical examination, always remember, doctors have seen everything and they couldn’t care less about how you ‘look’. Let your gynecologist take control and let them tell you what to do without overthinking it.
2. Based on experiences of a bunch of friends, I can tell you, first time intercourse is unpainful for some and a discomfort for others. You can never know beforehand. Don’t overthink it and just mentally prep yourself.
3. If it’s your first time, you need to approach this as you would anything else that’s slightly ‘challenging’. You should always take your time and get to know your partner first, particularly if the relationship is new. A mental connect before physical contact will always make the process easier and more enjoyable. No one’s a sex superhero on their first go.
4. If you have concerns or anxiety, prior communication with your partner is important. If it’s a long time partner, this should not be an issue. If it’s a new relationship, communicate with him prior to the wedding. If it’s a new relationship and you are not comfortable to discuss this prior to the wedding, then discuss this after and let it happen when you’re relaxed about it. Ask your guy to go easy, this is a bonding experience, not the Olympics. Patience and a gentle attitude will always help. And as much as the movies would like you to believe, it doesn’t always have to be on the same night.
5. Throw out your copy of the Cosmo and hear this, sex is not the most important part of a new relationship. It’s important but it can take its time. If it’s not happening immediately after the wedding, it should not cannabalise into your joy over the whole experience of getting married. Getting married is about enjoying each other’s company, understanding the new partnership, celebrating the union, getting to know the families, traveling together (if a honeymoon is on the cards). Give it sufficient time and you’ll get there. Don’t sit and stress out over why it’s not happening, and let the first few days of your marriage pass by in a blur.
6. If you’re conscious of your body and not comfortable with being seen by your spouse during first-time intercourse, remember that this feeling is temporary. With time, both individuals get comfortable and trivial things, like how your body looks, don’t matter as much. During the time that you are feeling conscious, you can always do things to cushion the effect, for example, arrange for dim lighting to be installed in your future bedroom so you can approach this within a darker, more comfortable setting. You can also communicate to your partner about your concerns and both can help each other (your partner may be feeling the same way too). You can also approach the process of disrobing yourself (lulz) slowly in phases split over a few days.
7. If you’re not able to have sex despite repeated attempts, consult with a doctor without any shame. The longer you hide it, the more ‘embarrassed’ you’ll feel on approaching a professional. If a couple of months slip by and you’re not there yet, call a doctor and help yourself out. However, do not allow yourself to feel distressed, angry or ashamed about it. Like you’d handle any other medical issue, for example chronic back pain, approach this in the same way. Ask your partner to support you and work through it together – no matter how long it takes.
8. Do not allow forced sex to happen due to any feelings of societal pressure from either partners’ end. If it’s not happening, get a diet coke and try again the next day. You own your body, you take all calls on it.
9. If anyone in your family is interested to know if it has happened already or not (the horror), both you and your partner can agree to not be upfront about it. This is absolutely no one’s business and I’d LOVE to tell you to tell them to buzz off, but I understand that there are some situations where the couple feels answerable (shame on you who’s asking); just tell them it’s happened and get them off your back.
10. Please use contraception. Unless your biological clock is ticking like a time bomb ready to explode, take your time to get to know your spouse on an individual level for the first couple of years. Read Part 1 to understand all the varying kinds of contraception available for you to pick from and make sure you have them ready before you get married or have sex for the first time.
11. Asking your partner to get tested for genetic or infectious diseases can be a call for assassination in our society. If you and your partner have known each other for very long, you can do this independently without involving families (if families are not supportive). If the relationship is new, you can develop trust prior to the wedding and again schedule such tests on an individual level. If the relationship is new however you do not have that level of understanding with your future spouse, your parents can approach the guys’ parents to schedule such tests for both of you. These can be called genetic tests for the larger group but perhaps you can discuss privately and include infectious disease in the mix too.
12. If you’ve suffered from prior sexual assault, communicate this to your partner so they can help you out. If you cannot communicate this to your partner for whatever reason, let them know that you are particularly nervous and need their help in calming down. If you married a decent person, he’ll help you out whole heartedly.
13. There’s no magical number for the number of times you should be intimate with your partner in a week. Do it as it works for your relationship. Don’t ask, don’t compare.
14. If you never end up having sex with your partner but have a fantastic relationship otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with that. Not everyone has the same experiences. Don’t question yourself and live your life on your own terms. If you’ve exhaustively tried but it’s not happening due to a medical reason, let yourself breathe and focus on other aspects of your relationship and life.