My boyfriend and I have been together for more than a year, and we love each other a lot. We haven't had sex yet and promised each other we'd wait for Valentine's Day. We fool around a lot, but when he puts his finger inside of me, it hurts. I assume this is because I am a virgin. We are ready to have sex but are both worried that it is going to hurt. What can we do?
Valentine Virgin (female, 20)
Dear Valentine Virgin,
You are already doing the most important things: being open about your feelings and really sharing the experience.
Regarding the physical parts: The muscle and skin surrounding the opening of your vagina (the hymen) is likely to tear when he penetrates you. That may hurt, and you may bleed a little, but there are things you can do to alleviate the discomfort.
• Relax. Tense muscles will make matters worse, so find a private place where you both feel comfortable and set the mood with music and dim lighting. You may also want to dress or groom yourself in ways that make you feel sexy and your best self. Also, decide ahead of time what kind of contraception you'll use so that your foreplay doesn't get interrupted.
• Lubricate. Oftentimes the pain associated with the first time has more to do with lubrication than actual tearing of the hymen. It's normal to feel nervous, but those jitters can get in the way of arousal. Keep some lube nearby to help grease the wheels.
• Take it slow. Be patient with each other and ease into the experience. Communicate during sex to let him know what feels good and what doesn't. Try different positions and take breaks if you need to. If it hurts too much, ask him to stop. You can always lighten things up by returning to your favorite methods of fooling around.
Remember, your first time doesn't need to be the ultimate. This experience is about strengthening your relationship and — on Valentine's Day — celebrating your love.