Love and Relationships

[Two Pronged] I haven’t had sex in 6 years – I’m scared the next time will hurt

Margarita Holmes, Jeremy Baer

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[Two Pronged] I haven’t had sex in 6 years – I’m scared the next time will hurt
'What should I do so it won't be that painful?'

Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.

Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.

Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.

Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer,

I haven’t had sex for six years. Thinking of doing so with a former lover. I’m just afraid it might hurt. What should I do so it won’t be that painful?


Dear B,

Thank you for your message.

Women are often concerned that sexual intercourse will be painful if they are virgins, or anticipate a physical mismatch with their partner, or have had past painful experiences. The first of these is not applicable in your case; as for the others, we do not know.

Generally pain can be reduced, if not eliminated, via lubrication. This can be the result of foreplay, stimulation, anticipation, desire, imagination – and/or aided by products such as creams and gels which can be bought online, in pharmacies, or at sex shops; or even that old staple, saliva. Judicious preparation using devices such as dildos may also be effective.

As you are proposing to renew a previous relationship, you will already be aware of your prospective partner’s sexual prowess but however accomplished he may be, there is always room for improvement and this can best be achieved by the best possible communication between you and your partner.

All the best,
JAF Baer

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Dear B:

Thank you very much for your letter. I think you have two things going in your favor.

One is that you have already had sex, and thus intercourse will not be entirely new to you. I do not agree that it is “just like riding a bike” with the procedural memory kicking in as soon as you ride it. For one thing, you can bend a mechanical device to your will far more easily than you can a person.  

Another is that you already know what sex with this particular person – whom you’ve had sex with before – will be like, UNLESS, of course, that is the problem.  

If you have had sex with him before, as your letter implies, then I can’t help feeling that, generally speaking, you know the initial pain is worth the subsequent joy after — whether within the first sexual experience or after one, or several, experiences with the him.

However, if, despite having sex with him before, you want suggestions on how it might hurt less, then I cannot help feeling that maybe the first (and possibly subsequent) time(s) with him were not completely pain-free. 

If that, indeed, is the case, then I agree with Mr. Baer that the best way to achieve your goal of no (or minimal) pain is by having the best possible communication between the two of you.

The communication may be as superficial and matter of fact as in: 

“You know that dildo you used on me the last time we made love, well, do you think you could use a smaller one this time please?”; or 

“Please lang, can we do the doggie style after several other positions? It takes me a while to get ready for it.”

It may be a tad deeper, but still not all that embarrassing, to bring up as in:

“I honestly do not know if your refractory period has become longer now that 6 years have passed.” (The refractory period is the time a man needs between the last ejaculation and the next erection); or

“You remember the old joke about the reason women fake orgasm…because men fake foreplay…well, I kinda feel like that sometimes.” Admittedly, it would take a reasonable assertive woman to say this, but why not, right?  

If this is a “repeat relationship,” after six years, then surely one would hope for some improvement in both parties? Either from experiences with partners in between the first and second time with each other or from being more mature and thus more willing to accommodate one’s partner.

It is important to share what you like and don’t like, what you’re willing to try, and plans for safer sex, e.g., what birth control method you both think will be best.  

After considering other approaches between those I have mentioned above and this one, you may want to share with him, either verbally or non-verbally, your desire to have him stay the night, to have more than a sexual relationship with him, and/or for him to take more time before penetration happens.  

In addition to being able to tell him what you want, what you fear, what would make you feel more comfortable, there are many things you can do to make sex more comfortable. 

Mr. Baer mentioned lubrication, and that helps many women feel more comfortable about having sex.  Not only does the lubrication per se help, but taking even that wee bit of time to find it, and apply it, may give you some breathing space, and allow your anxiety levels to go down. Many times, sex can be painful because one is so tense.

Last but not least, be realistic about your expectations. It is easy to fantasize that this second time together will be more tender, more raunchy, more everything your first time was not. Some of your fantasies may happen, but a lot more may not.  Being realistic is the only way to be fair both to yourself and your partner.

I hope these suggestions help, B, and let us know how it goes if the spirit moves you to.

All the best,
MG Holmes


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