Disclaimer: I am not a professional! If you want to find a professional sex educator please look at my "Resources" page. If you have any questions, feel free to ask on my ask site: FYsexeducationquestions, though check out my FAQ first!
From a Gender and Sex class:
The following are key areas and examples of some ways gender impacts sexual and reproductive health:
- Laws, Policies, Regulations, and Institutional Practices: Health policies sometimes discriminate against women and sexual/gender minorities by limiting their ability to freely access and choose appropriate sexual and reproductive health services and products. Policies to prevent and respond to GBV are frequently absent, limited, or ineffective.
- Cultural Norms and Beliefs: Beliefs that men should be aggressive and have many sexual partners lead them to engage in behaviors that place them and their partners at risk of HIV and other SRH problems. Women’s lower status in society often means that their health care needs are not prioritized in the household or in the health system. The common practice of gender-based violence (GBV) puts women, girls, and sexual minorities at greater risk of SRH problems, including HIV and STIs.
- Gender Roles, Reponsibilities and Time Used: Women generally have less power than men at all levels of society from the household to national and global leadership. Gender norms - such as limited mobility outside the home or greater childcare responsibilities - may limit women’s and girls’ ability to participate in the design and implementation of health programs in their communities.
- Access to and control over assets and resources: Women generally have less access to education, formal employment, finances, and social capital, all of which limit their access to health information, services, and products.
- Patterns of Power and Decision-making: Power cuts across and lays the groupdwork for all domains. Women’s and girls’ overall lower status in society limits their self-determination, or ability to make decisions about their own bodies and to exercise influence within their households, communities and states about health issues and practices. The practice of child marriage in some countries limits girls’ ability to decide when to marry and bear children, and is harmful to their health and to the health of their children.
This doesn’t take into account trans* or intersex people, who like cis women are discriminated against and less power in their health.
Should First Time Sex Be Painful?
Sex is complicated, that we can all agree on. Unfortunately there are a lot of myths out there and differing opinions that further complicate things.
The first myth I want to touch on is the myth of the hymen. That isn’t to say the hymen, also known as the vaginal corona, doesn’t exist. There are just a lot of myths about it. The Vaginal corona is a mucus membrane, like what lines our mouths, inside of our noses, our eyelids, and our intestines. It’s very thin, stretchy and generally is shaped like a tiny crescent moon that is found on one wall of the vagina, about 1-2 cm in. Some people do have hymen issues where it may cover all or most of the vagina and it may be thicker or less stretchy. This usually has to be removed by a doctor, and in the case of an imperforate hymen that covers the entire vagina it may cause menstrual issues and need to be removed before the first period can occur.
So the question is, does the vaginal corona tear and does it change with age? Because most children don’t go to gynecological appointments it’s difficult to tell. Many people report never having felt there hymen or seen it. Many gynecologists report that they’ve never seen one either, or have just seen it in a few patients. We do know that it tends to wear down with age. Some doctors think that the hymen may wear down or tear with exercise, others claim that because it’s inside the vagina and isn’t brittle that exercise doesn’t effect it. What we know for sure is that the hymen doesn’t change permanently with first time sex or vaginal entry, and that no doctor can tell if you’ve ever had sex.
The next question I usually get asked at this point is, if the hymen doesn’t break and there’s no “cherry” involved, why is first time sex painful? The answer is, for many it’s not! For those that do experience pain, it’s usually because of nerves. If it’s your first time and especially if you’re expecting it to be painful and your nervous or rushed all of your muscles are clenched down including your vaginal muscles. Add into that that you and your partner are inexperienced so you may not know your body very well or how to make sex feel good, a penis may definitely cause damage or tearing to the vaginal wall. Although the vaginal corona could be a part of that, any part of the vagina may be torn during sex like that. Don’t feel bad if first time sex was painful, but know that there are things you can do to keep it from happening in the future.
- Be relaxed. Make sure you’re with a partner you trust and that you don’t feel pressured or anxious. Take it slow, even if that means just sticking to foreplay and non vaginal forms of sexual activity (oral sex, manual stimulation, etc.) for right now.
- Don’t be rushed. This can be difficult when you’re a teenager or young adult and trying to avoid being caught by parents or room mates, but it’s important to really take time to get in the mood and not feel like you have to rush through everything.
- Get aroused. When your body is fully aroused the vagina lengthens, loosens, and lubricates. If your not aroused you’ll have a short (about 3 inches if that), tight, and dry vagina that may rip during sex. Spend time doing what makes your body feel good. Try new things, talk about fantasies you have, spend time on non vaginal forms of sexual activity, and talk to your partner about what feels good and what doesn’t.
- Communicate with your partner. If something feels good, make sure they keep doing it. If you’re just not getting aroused or not aroused enough let them know so you can try something else. If you want to try a particular thing that feels good or turns you on mentally let them know. If something hurts tell them to stop immediately and try something else. Sex SHOULDN’T hurt.
- Use sex aids. Some people don’t produce enough vaginal lubrication, and that’s okay! Buy some water or silicone based lube. Also, some people just don’t get aroused very easily and may need more stimulation than a hand or mouth can provide. That’s okay too. There’s nothing wrong with needing to use a vibrator or other sex toys during sex and it can make things more pleasurable for everyone involved.
- Do some research. Especially when you’re first starting out it can be difficult to figure out what to do during sex. Luckily, FYSE has a lot of resources to help out. We have guides on different types of sexual stimulation, posts on common sex problems and how to combat them, and my personal favorite, my Sexual Techniques to Reduce Pain post.
Generally speaking, a lot of people who have pain or bleeding with first time sex tend to continue to have problems with painful sex. It may just be technique or other problems described above, or it may be something else. I’m currently putting together a series of posts on different things that can cause pain during sex. Things like STIs, Genital Infection, Chronic pain disorders, and mental health issues like Depression. Stay tuned for these posts, or if you have an issue that causes painful sex for you and would like me to address it feel free to ask!
Hopefully this cleared up a few things. Although painful sex is common and normal, there are things you can do about it and first time sex doesn’t have to be painful.
I run the tumblr vaginismusandsexuality. I saw a while ago a doctor posting vaginismus articles on tumblr, so naturally I was interested and tore into the articles especially at the part where vaginismus has a 100% cure rate (we all know nothing in medical is ever 100%)
I sent this doctor a message saying how I have personally done every treatment available to me and still have not responded to anything. I simply wanted to be acknowledged that I exist. Instead of acknowledging that my experiences are real, he goes on to say how vaginismus is 100% treatable I am totally treatable IN SEVEN DAYS at his clinic in Turkey, which in living in the USA kinda makes it impossible.
He is not the only doctor that says this sort of damaging stuff. It’s actions like this by medical professionals that make people like me really angry and depressed. I just simply wanted to be acknowledged that my experiences and my situation is real, but instead I get offered “BUT YOU DIDN’T TRY TRAVELING HALF WAY ACROSS THE WORLD TO MEET ME, THE ONLY DOCTOR IN THE WORLD WHO CAN CURE YOU IN SEVEN DAYS!!!” For years I battled depression brought on by this 100% cure rate lie and…I just want to be acknowledged that I exist and that my experiences are real. Is that so hard? It hurts so much to type this, but you dealing with sexual issues I feel it is so important for other women to know that the 100% cure rate is a lie and their experiences are not invalid just because they have not literally traveled half way across the world to apparently see the only doctor ever to cure them.
FYSE: I had to comment because I have several chronic illnesses so I’ve gone through similar experiences with quacks who really just want to profit off of my conditions. People have told me everything from diet change to yoga to exercise to certain herbals will “cure” me but it’s not going to happen. There are so many people who profit off of other people’s pain and the unbearable drive to get rid of that pain. Especially when it’s so difficult to get acknowledgement and people telling you your conditions are all in your head, it can feel totally hopeless and you would do anything to feel better, even if it involves spending all of your money to see a doctor half way around the world. This should not be happening. People should not be profiting off of this.
I’m getting my presentation together for the talk I’m going to give at my local university on painful sex. I could really use your input!
First I want to address painful sex in general, what different types of things can cause it.
I’ll start with techniques to reduce pain, the basics of my pain and sexual problems FAQ and my “How to reduce sexual pain” post.
Then I was thinking I’d go on to STIs and other infections that can cause pain, genital conditions that can cause pain, circumcision, medical side effects, and then basics of chronic pain disorders and mental health conditions that can cause pain. I’m going to talk about how to increase your sex drive and also good consent. I’m going to address vaginismus and vulvadynia. Is there anything else I should address or any particulars I should make sure to include
Hello everyone, I am conducting primary research about sexual education experiences, including which topics have been covered, and how prepared the classes/programs made you feel for sexual activity. The survey also includes a few questions on the teaching LGBTQAI acceptance and consent. Please if you have a moment, I would very much appreciate your input!
With the power western society gives an adult over a child, I do not believe sex between the two can ever be 100% consensual. However I feel it is in every parent’s best interest to assume their child is a sexual being and to teach their child appropriate sexual behaviour.
I’m not so much talking about sex between adults and children, it was simply the relation of the post that brought me here. But children will tend to be exploring their sexuality, earlier than parents are willing to believe, without the guidance and knowledge to do it safely.
FYSE: In regards to This Post not only did the situation of Cherice Morales have to do with a child and an adult, it was a teacher and a student. With both there is an uneven power structure. You feel a certain amount of respect for students, coaches, and other people put in a leadership position. You’re told you’re supposed to obey them and you trust them. I’ve had so many friends who were abused by adults who were in a position of power.
I think part of sex education has to be education about grooming, power structures, consent, and boundaries. I think we need to equip our children and teens with the tools to see abusers for what they are and we need to give them resources where they can get help when they can’t get help from their family. As a country we need to take abuse much more seriously than we do. As a society we need to stop sexualizing young girls and having this lie of Lolita.
Yes, young people do need to be able to explore their sexuality and need to be taught that sex isn’t wrong, but there’s a huge difference between acknowledging that youths are sexual and sexualizing youths. We’ve made it into a normalized fetish in our society with school girl uniforms and older men cruising to pick up young teens being a common theme in a lot of our media. We make these young people into sex objects, it’s about the men’s sexual pleasure and has nothing to do with giving power to young people. We need to give them that power. That power that they can say no and they can get help and they can know what the hell is going on in their lives. They are taught that rape is violent so they don’t know what to do when it’s not. They’re taught that rapists are horrible people but aren’t taught that abusers can be nice and can be people that you may even love or trust. We’re teaching our children that they deserve to be raped. We’re taking the sexual power away from our children by both denying that they are sexual beings and also barraging them with all of these anti-consent messages from rape culture. At such a young age we start teaching children to “respect their elders” and to be nice and polite without teaching them that some adults will take advantage of them. As a society we need to wake up and see how prevalent child abuse is and start protecting our children instead of trying to hide information away from them.
Only at that point will young people be able to experiment with their sexuality in a healthy environment.
Published author and information guru Neal Litherland explains what the G Spot is, and how to find it, in an easy and educational tone! Nice, quick read for those people curious to learn what all the fuss is concerning this infamous spot!
FYSE: Gendered language, but pretty helpful
Submission: Safer Sex and Young FAAB Dykes/Queers
Can lesbians really contract STIs? Do trans guys who only have sex with cis women really have to use barriers? Does anyone actually use dental dams? Do they work?
To be clear: this confusion about how and why to have safer sex is not because of those sexist tropes that “lesbian sex” or vulvas and vaginas are so goddamn confusing. It’s because safer sex between two people with vulvas is so rarely discussed. […]
When I first learned about safer lesbian sex as a teenager, it seemed like this highly esoteric practice. None of my early lovers knew about it and I couldn’t imagine how to bring it up. When I read about women using gloves and dams, they were always a lot older and more sexually experienced than me. Gloves and dental dams felt more like props for sexual roleplay than actual safety devices.
-Laurel Isaac, "Figuring Out How to be a Lesbian Safer Sexpert"
[An exploration of the challenges queer FAAB-people encounter to practicing safer sex, and a run down of the real risks. Read more on Scarleteen.]