anonymous on August 30, 2011

How do I tell my partner that sex with him is painful...without damaging his ego?

I’ve had sex before and it’s never hurt until I had sex with my new boyfriend. I think his method needs some work. So how can I tell him he needs to do some things differently without hurting his feelings? I tried to talk to him once and he told me it was my fault.

answered by Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on August 30, 2011

You asked a great question about the importance of trust and open communication about sex.

For most people, sex is a big part of any romantic relationship…and sometimes, everything just falls into place and people are very compatible. But most couples need to experiment and figure out what works for them. It’s important to think of this process as mutual and nurturing, not blaming. And if something isn’t working, it’s usually not one partner’s fault.

Of course, sex is different with each partner. And it’s pretty common for a partner to wonder or worry about how they measure up to any other partners you’ve had. So – while I know it hurt when you’re boyfriend tried to place the blame on you – it’s also not uncommon that his first response was defensive.

Where can you go from here? Go positive. That is, start by telling your boyfriend what isworking for you…lovingly tell him what he’s doing that you like. Maybe then, follow up with some things you’d like to “try,” which might sound a little more playful, exciting and inclusive, rather than like you’re trying to fix a problem. In keeping with the idea that communicating about sex is a two-way street, also encourage your partners to share with you things that he might like to try.

During sex, you may also want to try leading him along with your hands and vocalizing when you like something. And when your boyfriend does something that’s causing you pain or discomfort – as you describe in your question – gently tell him that you need to try a different position (using more lubricant may also be helpful).

In fact, trying different sexual positions can make a big difference for many women in terms of comfort…and can make sex more exciting for their partners. For example, you can try being on top, which gives you more control over how fast, slow or deep you go.

In other words, you’re not alone. Sexual compatibility is something many couples need to work on. And learning ways to communicate about it in a positive but honest way may take some experimentation, as well.

Finally, if you’re not already, I encourage you to keep up with your annual exams and Pap smears…just to make sure that there isn’t any other condition that’s potentially causing you pain.

Thanks again for your writing. With honest communication, positive feedback and some experimentation, I hope that you and your boyfriend will find new ways to enjoy mutually satisfying sex.

Related Info:

Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD

Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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