Ask Self Serve – When Penetration is Painful

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Question: I’ve had a lot of trouble with painful penetration so I just gave up on it.  I’ve asked every gynecologist I’ve been to if something’s wrong and my last one finally found that my hymen was still partially intact.  I’ve had sex with one man and they don’t have to use the ‘virgin’ speculum. I would like to enjoy sex that includes penetration. I only have sex with women and my partner and I have toys, but I have anxiety about penetration because I’ve always just thought it was painful and there’s nothing to be done.  Any suggestions on how to make this less of a tense situation?

Answer: Thank you for reaching out to us and to talking to your gynecologists. You’ve already taken an important step in the process by listening to your body. Sex should never hurt. It’s great that you want to try penetration, because it can increase vaginal health and prevent the muscles from atrophying.

Our first recommendation would be to get a glycerin-free, silicone or water-based lube that you like. Some of our most popular lubes are Liquid Silk (water-based) and Pink (silicone-based).

Next you might consider getting a dilator set or a small toy to start out. Expecting your body to be ready for sex because you are emotionally ready is like expecting your body to be ready to run a marathon because you’ve thought about it a lot. Getting your body ready for pleasurable penetration often requires the right tools for the job and some ‘work outs’ before the big day.  The dilator set we sell is a fun and affordable ($44.95) and has a varying range of insertable sizes. The circumference of the attachments starts at 7 cm and goes up to 12 cm. The set comes with 3 hard plastic attachments and one jelly rubber sleeve for a softer feel. Plus  this toy vibrates, which might really help your body relax.

If you’re feeling anxiety about penetration, it’s important to take the time your body needs to feel relaxed and ready. Try having an orgasm with just external stimulation, before you start with any penetration. This is advice we give to women of all ages and experiences. Take the time your body needs to get warmed up, and your body will thank you!

For further information check out the book When Sex Hurts by Andrew Goldstein MD, Caroline Pukall PhD, Irwin Goldstein MD

Email your questions to

Questions are answered by Self Serve Staff and edited by Hunter Riley.

Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider for any medical condition.

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