Do you remember the first time you had sex? Most people recall the awkwardness, pain, sometimes embarrassment that comes with doing something you’ve never done before.

Sex is one of those core instincts we are born with, but the ability to truly experience pleasure is something we develop over time.

Many women find it difficult to enjoy themselves and often experience pain during intercourse. This puts them off even more and sometimes leads to avoiding sex altogether.

While vaginal pain can be caused by serious medical issues, there are 3 common reasons sex is uncomfortable that you can easily solve.

1. You’re not building enough anticipation.

The most common reason sex hurts is simply that you have not reached the right level of arousal. The female sexual response is very different from men’s. Sometimes we’re too much in our head. Just because you feel you ‘should’ be ready for sex, doesn’t mean your genitals fully got the message. To get them in the mood, start to think about sex way before you meet your lover. Indulge in imagining the pleasure sensations when your lips and skin finally touch. Fantasize about feeling that connection and share what you want to do to each other to allow your body to come alive and fully prepare for the experience.

2. You’re going too fast.

Vaginas are absolutely amazing organs: they can be both very responsive but sometimes very slow. The secret to pain-free sex is lubrication. Sometimes it can take some time to get it right. The trick is to remember that you are never ‘too wet’.

In fact, the wetter you are, the better it will feel for both of you (never apologize for that, your man is LOVING it). If you rush to penetration before you are ready, it’s likely you will feel pain, friction and it can actually become quite unpleasant instead of fun. Slow things down and go back to basics if your lover is going a little too fast. It is always OK to switch attention from genitals to creating a deeper connection by saying “ Wait, I really want to just kiss you right now” or ‘I want to feel your lips all over me”. If all else fails, get a good lubricant (they come in some amazing flavors and textures and add a lot of fun to the bedroom games).

painful sex advice

3. You’re worried it will hurt.

It is a proven fact that our thoughts create our emotions and physical responses. If you’ve ever had painful sex (possibly for the reasons mentioned above which now you know how to avoid!), you may start to associate the whole sexual act with the pain you experienced in that moment.

The body might respond by contracting the muscles of the vaginal opening– effectively closing it up to protect you from the pain you anticipate. Let go of this fear by taking a few deep breaths and consciously relaxing your vaginal and abdominal muscles, visualizing yourself opening your body to your lover like a flower.

Sex is a very vulnerable and intimate experience that requires a lot of trust, so look your partner deep in the eyes, ask him to go slow and take your time accepting him inside your body. Give yourself permission to rethink the pleasure experience and trust it will be different this time.