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Dear Sexpert,

I recently started having sex with my new boyfriend, and it is quite painful for me. Is it possible that his penis is too big? Is my vagina too small? What can we do?

— Barely Fitting In


Dear Barely,

Having sexual intercourse should be fun and mutually enjoyable, so if you are ever feeling pain or discomfort during sex, stop and figure out what’s not working.

First, an anatomy lesson: The average vagina is about three to four inches in length. When women become aroused, muscular tension in the vagina pulls the uterus upward, extending the length of the vagina up to five to six inches. This can help to accommodate a penis (or other object) more comfortably. The average male penis is three to five inches when flaccid, and five to seven inches when erect. However, size can vary widely, and you and your boyfriend might need to spend some time experimenting to find what works for both of you. Different sexual positions can allow you to change the depth and pace of intercourse, so that you can be more comfortable. Take it slow at first to see how it goes.

Let’s discuss other likely causes of pain during sexual intercourse. There could be a lack of lubrication, which would make it much more difficult and painful for his penis to enter you. Latex condoms, some medications or low arousal can impact lubrication. Talk with your partner about spending more time on foreplay to increase arousal. You could also try introducing water-based lubricants (they are less irritating and won’t damage latex condoms). Additionally, if you are feeling a cramping sensation during intercourse, it could be caused by his penis hitting your cervix.

If you still have questions, or if the pain persists or gets worse, it could be caused by an infection or other medical issue. Make an appointment with Sexual Health and Wellness Services at University Health Services, where clinicians can help you come up with some more strategies so that you can enjoy healthier and happier sexual experiences.

— The Sexpert

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