In the first post I touched on the basics including the decision about what type of contraception you’ll be using, getting products like lubricant to help make the experience more pleasurable, the motivation behind the choice to be sexually active, and making sure to have a person you can speak with, both before and after, who might be able to help and offer guidance should you need it.
The second post focused on all the tips, suggestions and information I thought most ‘males’ would need to know, or at least want to know, to help make the experience an enjoyable one for both them and their partner(s).
For those of you jumping into the series, I highly suggest you go back and read the first article as it will set the tone and possibly give you the insight you need to decide if having sex is something you’re really ready for.
tip: even if you identify as being ‘female’ I suggest you read the post directed at ‘males’ as it can help give you some valuable insight to what most go through and possibly even help you relay information to others.
As for this article, I’m going to be covering tips, suggestions and insights I think everyone with a vagina should know before engaging in sexual activity, hopefully making the experience the best it can be for everyone.
As someone with a vagina, there are two types of protection you need to worry about; contraception (or protecting against an unplanned pregnancy) and STD/STI protection. While most think that anything you use offers the dual protection needed, it sadly isn’t the case. With this in mind, I’m going to offer some tips and suggestions to help you find and choose a method that works for you, while also offering some tips to help ensure its effectiveness.
Choosing a method of contraception can be a rather daunting one, especially with all the options on the market. Now add that to the fact that some products like the diaphragm require a “fitting”, others like the pill require a prescription and others still require insertion/placement by a doctor (IUD) and you’ve got a handful of issues to deal with. Unfortunately the situation can often be overwhelming and scary, I know, I’ve been there.
The best suggestion I can give is to talk to someone you trust or do an online search (Scarleteen, Sexualityandu.ca and Sexetc have some great info) to find a method that you think would work for you. Once you’ve learned all that you can about the product(s), schedule a visit with your doctor or local hassle free clinic to speak about your options.
In most cases your doctor will go over all the dangers, possible side effects (if there are any) and benefits that you need to know before making a decision. While you can always change your mind and switch products should you decide to later, make sure to take the opportunity to ask any questions you may have before deciding as it’s the best way to avoid any delays in intimacy with your partner, something that’s often suggested when switching.
tip: if you’re switching from a product like the diaphragm to the pill it’s suggested that use another method of protection (like the condom or female condom) to allow the product to fully take effect. You’re doctor will be able to tell you how long you should expect to wait.
Whether it’s the pill, diaphragm, female condom, IUD, shot (depovera), patch, sponge or male condom, putting the method into practice is of utmost importance. I say this because most don’t take the necessary steps to ensure proper application, an issue that plays a large role in the effectiveness and guarantee of positive results.
If you’re going to be using a product that’s meant to be inserted like the female condom, diaphragm or sponge (others listed here) I suggest taking the time to practice getting it into place before you use it for intercourse. Doing so will likely help make the situation faster, easier, less confusing and definitely more comfortable. Let’s be real, there’s nothing worse then hearing your partner knock on the bathroom door and anxiously ask “are you okay in there?” while you’re fumbling to learn how to put in your diaphragm. #true story
If condoms are more your thing, it would be a good idea to practice applying them on a brush handle, banana, cucumber, or other phallic shaped object so that you’ll know how to do it right, and more importantly, know enough to notice if your partner is doing it wrong. If your partner is unsure about what condoms are best, I created a condom size chart which might prove helpful.
If you’re going to be using products like the pill or patch, which work by affecting your hormones, I suggest finding out how long it takes for them to be active and giving them the necessary time to set in. I also suggest you get in the habit of taking them everyday at the same time (in the case of the pill), a practice that will go a long way for ensuring effectiveness.
tip: because some antibiotics and medications can cancel out the pill, I suggest you talk to your doctor and ask any questions you may have to ensure that this doesn’t happen while you’re engaging in intercourse.
Unfortunately condoms, the female condom and dental dam (the latter being something used for oral intimacy rather than intercourse) are the only products currently on the market offering dual protection against STD/STI’s and unplanned pregnancies. If you are going to be using a method of protection that is strictly for contraception (listed above) I highly suggest you also get in the practice of STD/STI protection, as it’s something that could very likely save your life, if not save you the headache of an unwanted STD/STI.
On that note, I don’t agree that males should be responsible for the condoms and females responsible for the contraception. In fact, I think it’s a very good idea for everyone to get into the habit of carrying condoms at all times, especially considering that you never know when the heat of the moment may strike. Better safe then sorry right?
Tips & Suggestions
Some of the most common worries I hear from females are that they’ll be “too loose”, “too tight”, that they might bleed, they don’t know what to do (“am I just supposed to lay there?”), that they’ll do it “wrong” and finally that it will hurt. If you can relate to any of the above, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In an attempt to help, I’ve listed some tips/suggestions that I hope will build your level of confidence and give you some insight regarding what to expect your first time around.
No matter if you’re female, male or transgendered, I highly suggest learning to masturbate before sexual activity. While this may seem like an attempt to keep you from having sex, nothing could be farther from the truth. To me, the act can play a vital role in preparing you for your first sexual experience; it’ll help you to learn about your likes and dislikes, get you in touch with your body, help you discover parts you didn’t know existed, and give you the upper hand when it comes to relaying everything you’ve learned to your partner. If there is one thing I can’t stress enough it’s that communication and preparation is key to a good sexual experience – especially for the first time, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
I put this on the top of the list for the boys, though I think it’s probably one of the most important for everyone – as simple as it may sound, being relaxed is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give. When you’re relaxed your heart rate is lower, stress levels decrease, your mind becomes still, you have a better chance of becoming aroused and any anxiety you may be feeling will drift away. Sure, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal but maintaining a sense of calm will go a long way for helping to relax the vaginal muscles and make the experience a tad less painful.
My suggestion: When trying to stay relaxed you may think of the old standby techniques like breathing, maintaining a sense of calm and going with the flow will have the best effect, and to a certain extent, you’re right. However, I personally think being prepared in every aspect will make the biggest difference when it comes to the big day/night or otherwise. If you know how to use your chosen method of protection, what your likes and dislikes are, what type of stimulation both you and your partner prefer, what type of lube you’ll be using and have talked about all your fears or anxieties with someone you trust, that will go a long way for helping you stay calm in the heat of the moment as you’ll already know what to expect and not be caught off guard.
One of the most commonly asked questions (and biggest worries) I get from females is that they’ll be “too tight” or “too loose” for their first time. While it is an issue that’s often blown out of proportion and something most myths are made of, you can have a small degree of control over the way your vagina functions when it comes to being “loose” or “tight”.
The vagina is a pretty amazing thing; when aroused it has the ability to “tent” where the vaginal canal, usually only 3-4 inches deep, swells and pulls back, expanding to 5-7 inches, allowing a larger object to enter. It’s this “tenting” that will often create a “looser” feeling. For those of you that think it’s a bad thing, keep in mind that it usually only happens when a female is aroused, pointing to the fact that you’re likely doing something right. In regard to “tightening”, since the walls are lined with muscle, the vaginal canal has the ability to tense and contract (something you can learn to do) making it feel tighter around your partner’s member. If you’d like more information on myths and misconceptions associated with being “loose” or “tight”, I suggest you read this article on the subject.
My Suggestion: If your concern is that you’ll be “too tight”, I suggest purchasing a small dildo or vibrator (it doesn’t have to be expensive) to help you “loosen” up. While the process isn’t one that will leave lasting permanent results (meaning you won’t have a gaping hole after putting something in your vag) it will go a long way for helping you get used to the feeling of having something inside, as well as deriving pleasure from a foreign object. If your concern is that you’ll be “too loose”, I suggest learning to flex and contract your PC muscles, as that is what you’ll be using to “tighten” around your partner during intercourse.
tip: learning to tighten your PC muscles is actually very easy: the next time you urinate break the flow of your pee for intervals of 3 seconds at a time (i.e pee for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds etc). Pay attention to the way it feels and mimic that sensation any time you can. You can do it when in line at the bank, grocery shopping, watching t.v. or writing in your journal. The best thing about it, no one knows you’re doing it.
Unfortunately there is no hard or fast rule, suggestion or advice to guarantee that the experience will be painless. Sure there are lots of things you can do to help, but the amount of pain you experience will depend on many factors; your level of relaxation, arousal, personal lubrication (or use of purchased lube), body compatibility (his penis is very large, your vagina is very “small”) and open communication being some of them.
My Suggestion: The advice I have to offer here is twofold;
1.) As I stated earlier, do your best to relax. Just like every other muscle in your body, when you’re tense, scared or afraid in the moment your vaginal muscles will likewise tense, possibly making insertion a little harder then previously thought. While relaxing is much easier said then done, little things like lighting candles, playing music, spending lots of time on foreplay and learning to trust your partner can go a long way to creating an environment where you feel safe, secure, able to let go and relax.
2.) One of the main issues I find people tend to overlook is the role being “wet” plays in great sex; if you’re not aroused enough your body most likely wont naturally provide the amount of personal lubricant needed to make insertion of the penis “easy”, if not easier. This is where the application of a good lube comes in. That said, I highly suggest you invest in a body safe lube that’s low in glycerin. It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be silicone. In fact, a good water based lube like the ones System Jo (from $6.75) or Sliquid (from $8.48) make, will usually do. Apply a little to both you and your partner before intercourse to ensure there is less friction, i.e. pain.
There’s no other way I can put this then to say, some people will bleed and some wont. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and it doesn’t happen all the time. For some the blood may be a little heavy like a light period, for others it might be just a drop. Either way it’s “normal”, natural and nothing to be ashamed of. While we’re on the subject, for those that don’t know much about the hymen, I suggest you watch this video to give you a better understanding of why some people might bleed.
My Suggestion: Although I can’t offer any suggestions to stop you from bleeding, I can offer some that might help make the experience a little less mortifying. First, place a dark colored towel beneath you, not only will it possibly soak up the blood but it will also keep it from staining your sheets and mattress. Unless you’re in it, having sex in a bed you’ve just bled in can be slightly frightening for some first timers. Second, go slow. While this might not play a huge role in how much (or even if you do) bleed, it can go a long way for decreasing friction and/or tearing of the hymen, something that is most definitely a contributing factor. Finally, if it hurts don’t be afraid to tell your partner, you’re more than allowed. The same thing goes if it’s too fast, slow, deep, hard, soft, shallow, or otherwise – speak your mind and don’t shy away. This is something you will most likely remember for the rest of your life, take every step you can to make it a great one.
Very often I’m sent messages from scared and nervous viewers, just about to embark on their first time, asking what it is they are supposed to do. Like the majority of advice I’ve given in this post, there’s no specific answer – the best I can give is to do whatever you need to do to make sure you enjoy it. In short, be selfish! Sure it may sound bad, but very often someone is left disappointed and orgasmless, wondering “is that what it’s all about?”.
My Suggestion: Whether it’s grinding your clit against your partners pubic bone (not penis), riding hard and rough or soft and gentle, playing with your clitoris while their inside you, using a toy to help speed along the orgasm, or simply trying different positions until you find one you like, do everything and anything you want. I mean that. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed by your actions. Your orgasm and enjoyment are your responsibility, not theirs.
Last but not least, be gentle with yourself. Don’t take it too seriously and remember it’s your first time, not you’re hundredth. Just like riding a bike, learning to roller blade or playing a sport, being “good in bed” is something that comes with time, experience, learning, being open to change and willing to explore your opportunities. It’s also something that’s going to change with each different partner, when it comes to sex, nothing is a surefire guarantee.
It’s safe to say that your first time will most likely be scary, overwhelming, nerve wracking, exciting, intense, thrilling, and memorable. And although I’d like to tell you otherwise, no matter how “perfect” you try to make it, I can almost guarantee something will go wrong. The more you expect that, the more able you’ll be in the moment to let it go, move on, and not let it effect things.
Will you’re first time be what you expected? not entirely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time.
Will it be fantastic? Hopefully, though it seems first times rarely are.
Will it be something you always remember? I’d think so, which is why I suggest doing everything in your power to make it a good one.