The Doctor Is In: I’m Afraid Of Sex

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Got a health question? Don’t trust those “Doctors” at the University Health Center? Are you scared of Web M.D. because it always tells you you’re gonna die? Ask a real doctor, our friend Dr. Lissa Rankin. She’s here every Thursday to answer whatever you throw at her – like the ultimate cure for a hangover! – so ask away. Leave your question in the comments or send it over to us. Don’t be shy; she’s waiting for ya!

Q: I don’t really know how to ask this so I’ll just get right to it. I’m still a virgin and I’m the only one left in my group. All my girl friends lost their virginity this year and have been telling me how much it hurt. Now I’m scared! Is it really that bad? And is there anything I can do to….prepare? Or should I just buy some cats now and grow old as a single, virgin spinster?

I’m really freaking out here.

A: Ok, hold up. It is definitely not time to start hoarding cats. Unless you really like cats, in which case, stock up! But don’t throw in the towel on sex just yet. Every woman is different when it comes to what your first time feels like. If you’ve been wearing tampons, riding horses, and straddling balance beams in gymnastics, your hymen may already be broken, so it might hurt less. On the flip side, if you’re very tiny and trying to insert a junior sized tampons sends you through the roof, you might face some serious discomfort.

But even if you are in the latter group, there are things you can do, especially if you’re in a relationship and can anticipate when it will happen (which offers your best shot at a good experience, in my opinion. Losing your virginity to a beer-sloshed one-night stand who can’t remember your name doesn’t bode well for gentle, compassionate connection between you and your partner. But then, you know that.).

My patient Adrianna had so much pain just from foreplay that she avoided sex until she was twenty-nine. (Every Christmas she would send me a card with the Virgin Mary on it and sign it “Love, the Virgin.”)  Always in serious relationships, she would put it off until that inevitable moment when she knew she would either have to lose her virginity or break up with the guy. Every year, when she reached that fork in the road, she broke some poor guy’s heart, rather than ‘fessing up to her fears.

Then she met Ed, and he swept her off her feet.  After he proposed, she approached me, begging me to help her give it all up to Ed.  Here’s what I told her to do:

How To Lose Your Virginity As Painlessly as Possible

1. Purchase a good sexual lubricant like Astroglide or K-Y Jelly.

2. Begin to prepare weeks, even months in advance. (Note: preparation also includes getting comfortable and intimate with your own body!)  The vagina is an elastic organ designed to fit a baby through it.  Your virginal vagina may not like being stretched by an erect penis, but it’s willing to negotiate. Begin by starting to dilate the vagina with the smallest thing you can insert into your vagina comfortably – a pinkie finger, a junior sized tampon, or a thumb. Lube it up and gently insert it inside the vagina.

3.  Notice the muscles that surround your vagina. Are they tense or relaxed? Does the object or finger slide easily into the vagina, or does it hurt? Make a conscious effort to release the tension from those muscles. Hold the object in for 10 minutes.

4. If that doesn’t hurt at all, try gradually increasing the size of what you insert into your vagina- a super-plus sized tampon, two fingers, or a small dildo. Repeat the exercise with the larger object until you find something that begins to stretch you and feel uncomfortable. When you reach that point, hold the object still for 10 minutes, and repeat this every day until it no longer hurts. (Don’t forget the lube, which is key). You may bleed during some of these exercises, which is nothing to worry about, as long as the bleeding is slight.

5. When you notice that it no longer hurts to insert that object inside, go bigger. Keep increasing the size of what you place into the vagina until you can accommodate a dildo that mimics the size of your partner’s penis.

6. Once you can keep the dildo in place for 10 minutes without pain, try moving it in and out of you, mimicking what your partner would do during intercourse. Go slowly, and make sure you have control of how the dildo moves. Feel free to play around with other types of sexual stimulation or other sex toys during this process. Remember, sex is supposed to be fun! Feel free to invite your partner in for the party, if you feel comfortable. If not, make it a private affair until you’re ready for the big night.

7. When you can do this without pain, you’re ready for the main event. Encourage your partner to have fun with foreplay. The more aroused you feel, the less likely it is to hurt.

8. Spend a moment taking deep, relaxing breaths. Concentrate on relaxing the muscles around the vagina to make way for your lover to enter you. Visualize your vagina as a flower gently opening to receive the love you share with your partner.

9. When you’re ready, lube up and try a woman-on-top position, which gives you more control over the depth of penetration and the speed of the thrusting. Take it slow. Listen to your body. Warn your partner that you may not be able to finish the job. If need be, you can ask him to stop and take care of him in other ways, if you know what I mean.

Remember: practice makes perfect. It gets better with time – I swear. If your first time isn’t glorious, don’t be discouraged. My first time was God-awful, but in time, our bodies learn what to do and you’ll be making beautiful music in the sack before you know it.

Hope it helps!

Wishing you a gentle, safe, loving, nurturing cherry-pop,

Dr. Lissa



  1. Angie Marie says:

    You know, if you're scared about sex now, there is a good chance that you attach a lot of emotion to the idea of connecting with someone in bed. That means you will very likely regret having sex before you're ready and/or with the wrong person. I suggest waiting until you are in a long-term, committed relationship. I personally am saving sex for marriage, but I understand that everyone has to make the decisions about sex that are best for them. On the other hand, I think most people would agree that it would be stupid of you to do something that scares you before you're ready. Also, you never imply that you WANT to have sex, just that you're feeling left out. Don't rush it just to "fit in."

  2. Brittney says:

    In other words…. masturbate a lot with dildos. :D I like that. lol

  3. maria says:

    I completely agree with Angie. Don't do something you're not comfortable with just because everyone else is doing it.

  4. Alisha says:

    I agree that noone should have sex until they are comfortable, etc., etc. but I also know what it is like to really just want to know how to prepare/what it will feel like, and NOBODY seems to have an answer to this. Much like before my first real kiss…"how do I do it?" was answered with "you will just know." Being comfortable with the person does not necessarily mean that the fear will immediately be gone, or that it won't be helpful to know what it will feel like/if it will hurt. I was fingered and used a dildo before the main event for this exact reason, and my first time still hurt a bit. Also, my first time was not with someone I loved, and while I do not regret that, I will say that now that I am completely in love the sex is not only better, it is incomparable to those times with someone I was not in love with. However, had I loved the person that I lost my virginity to, I think that I still would have been extremely nervous and curious. Props to CC for such a straightforward article. Yes girls, it will hurt, but no, you won't cry, or scream, or probably even bleed much, and once you get used to it and are with the right person, it will be amazing!

  5. b says:

    Kristen- contrary to what you believe, having sex before you're married doesn't make you a whore. And as for disgusting, I think you'd only have to read over your choice of vocabulary to realize who the disgusting one is.

  6. Great article until I got to this line: "Visualize your vagina as a flower gently opening to receive the love you share with your partner."


  7. G says:

    Good tips, just in case… I don't plan on going all the way until after marriage (my own choice). I agree with Angie Marie, as long as you're doing it with the right person (responsible, cares about you as a person), and doing it for the right reason (love, not peer pressure)– I say, go for it. :)

  8. Laura says:

    In my humble opinion/personal experience, for the vast majority of women, the “pain” of losing your virginity is highly exaggerated. I won’t deny that there are cases of women who have extremely narrow vaginas, or who produce less lubrication, but for the most part, as long as the woman is sufficiently aroused and relaxed, there isn’t much pain.

    Personally, I didn’t feel any pain my first time, beyond a mildly burning sensation that’s actually pretty pleasurable, but considering that my partner was fairly well endowed, was met with a surprising burst of pain when I tried being on top for the first few weeks.

    You just have to listen to your body. If something you’re doing is painful, communicate that to your partner, and figure out what you’re both doing wrong. ;)

  9. […] Dr. Lissa Rankin. She’s here every Thursday to answer whatever you throw at her – like the getting over your fear of sex– so ask away. Leave your question in the comments or send it over to us. Don’t be shy; she’s […]

  10. […] used to being around people who blush at the word “vagina”. I can’t help but wonder, though, why sex is such an utterly taboo topic — why being a nearly-twenty-year-old sex columnist comes with this huge stigma, even when […]

  11. missy renea says:

    Thanks, this is a great article!

  12. nadia says:

    pathetic considering it comes from a doctor!!! so you suggest that se de-virgin herself on her own!!how awesome!!! for God sake!!!plus even the description makes me feel the pain,let along trying it!

  13. Kachi says:

    I have had sex before but now am scared of having one.this is because i feel that once i do i might not last long and i might ejaculate before what do i do?

  14. Laura says:

    This is really embarrasing for me I havebeen bullied nearly all my life and now im petrifide of meeting new.people and I am a virgin and im totaly scared of trying sex help

  15. skr says:

    I am afraid of sex because I think every woman is having HIV/ AIDS. How to overcome this fear?

  16. B25 says:

    This is a very helpful article!
    I would ignore anyone who frowns on the advice about preparing yourself with a sex toy or masterbation- in situations such as these teaching yourself how to feel comfortable is far more important than having that 'perfect first time' where you 'give it all to him'.
    There's no point in trying to give him something if you're stressing out about it because then it won't be fun for him or you.

    One of the biggest problems I've had (and I am still a virgin, fighting a fear of sex) is that I'm not sure at all what I'm actually scared of!
    The pain doesn't scare me much; I know that if I'm in the mood, I won't care about any pain. I'm not terribly worried about diseases or pregnancy as I'm smart enough to use protection and I'm not scared about doing it with someone "wrong" who'll leave me. I've got a pretty tough emotional skin. Oh and I'm also not scared of being unattractive or unfullfilling, as I know instinct will take care of that for me.
    So, can anyone tell me- WHAT AM I SCARED OF???

  17. […] I’m Afraid Of Sex College Candy […]

  18. Annoymous says:

    I have been having sex for 6 years now, and 98% of my sexual experiences have been with "loved" ones. I never perform oral on my partners, but are happy to receive to keep them happy. The biggest thing is the fear of being bad or doing it wrong. I don't really get aroused by anyone, apart from myself. I want to know what is wrong with me? Am I considered to be Asexual? I feel like an idiot saying all this, but it is a serious problem I would like to get over. I have broken up with my two long lasting relationships because they fear I don't like them because I never initiate anything. If fact they think I'm cheating on them…. is this wrong? What can I do? people always say you need to be comfortable, but the last two guys i was with for years… what so i do?

  19. loli says:

    Okay, I’ve heard it all before “sex will be fun trust me” or “what are you scared?” In all truth yes I’m scared of sex.. I’m a very horrified.. I’m a tiny petite Woman, my boyfriend is 6’3 and 200 pounds of mussel compaired to my small 5’4 and 105 pound body. I was bullied a long time but I gained confidence and I’m an almost fearless woman. I’m extreamly shy and when they say speak up about something I’m like.. well OK.. then they add the word sex in the mix.. I feel like a child about it! I get embarrised and want to hide away like it didn’t exist at all..everyone else knows that its okay..but I get very scared.. growing up if anything showed up on the TV like that my mom would scream and yell turning the channel like it was the most sinful thing you could do.. now I see her with her bf as he is horny and she is smiling like a school girl, him kissing her neck and stuff.. I feel sick almost.. I wanna cry because I feel so “not normal” about it.. me and my bf have sextexted before with no issue (I’ve known him for almost 2 years) but when it comes to reality and it “happening” i don’t even want to.. he’s going to be 20 this year and I’m a young woman on verge of 19.. he’s so sweet and I love him to death, he knows i would do anything for him.. but sex has me for a total panic attack! Can you help me with this before it becomes a big problem?

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