Edited on 5/23/2019 for medical accuracy and nuance
I spent most of my pre- and post-pubescent years learning about how not to have sex, so learning how to have sex went against my entire physical and psychological conditioning. I got lots of practical advice, but not all of it worked.
Like, “Don’t worry — you’ll figure it out. It’s natural.” (It wasn’t. It just wasn’t. I had to Google it. Multiple times. In tears. Because it wasn’t.)
But the biggest practical sex myth — the one I keep hearing preached to newlyweds like gospel — is that you need to pop the cherry.
You do not need to break your hymen in order to have sex the first time.
Which means you do not need to keep pushing, despite excruciating pain, until something breaks and bleeds.
A little discomfort or a little bleeding during virginal intercourse is normal, but that’s a sign to take things slower and do something different, not a sign that things are going according to plan. Your hymen might have torn, but that’s not something to aim for. If you still have an intact hymen (and not all women do), the goal is to gently stretch it, not ram through it. This can occur over the course of several nights through relaxed, lubricated, gentle sex, or in more extreme and persistently painful and bloody cases, a gynecologist might need to take a look.
Many women don’t even have a fully intact hymen on their wedding night. High impact sports, gymnastics, bike riding, masturbation, and tampon usage can all thin and stretch the hymen to an unobstrusive lady part — no sex required. In that case, bleeding and pain often come from an irritated vaginal lining, a lack of lubrication, or too rough or swift penetration. Again: slow down and try something different.
If you’re in pain during sex, stop forcing it. You should not feel pain. Do not try to pop, break, or tear anything. Slow down. Add more lube. More than you think. Do more foreplay. A lot more than you think.
And be patient. It can take several days to relax enough for full, mostly painless penetration.
And if that doesn’t work? Call your gynecologist. Many women do experience painful sex (hymen-related or otherwise) for a whole host of physical and psychological reasons that require expert diagnosis and treatment. Please don’t accept painful intercourse as just par for the course of being a sexually active woman. Don’t doubt your judgment or blame yourself if sex is painful. Pain is a sign that something is functioning incorrectly — not a sign that you’re wrong.
Oh, and if anybody tries to tell you that breaking the hymen represents the shedding of Christ’s redemptive blood? It doesn’t. Because (1) that’s literally not anywhere in the Bible, and (2) the hymen isn’t supposed to bleed during first-time sex. Nothing should bleed. The goal is bloodless sheets and painless sex.
Apologies for the diatribe, but sheesh! This myth needs to die in a hole and never come back again!
What sex myths have you heard?