Advice From Stoya: How To Make Sex More Comfortable

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
I was hoping you could give me some advice. I am in a happy, long distance relationship with my boyfriend and we enjoy sex every time we meet. However, usually he wants to have sex more than once in a day, but I find it painful being penetrated that often. When he penetrates me/I get turned on, I tense a lot, which feels great, but I feel like this is the reason penetration hurts when we do it again after sex. We don't use condoms, since I'm on birth control. We use lube. I was wondering if you have any advice — ways I can prevent this and be able to have sex more than once a day? -C

As always, the first thing a female-bodied person should do when experiencing pain during sexual activity is go get checked out by a sex-positive or at least sex-neutral gynecologist. In the U.S., the Affordable Care Act has recently made healthcare more accessible, and many Planned Parenthood locations still use a sliding-scale fee system based on the individual patient’s financial situation. Many other countries have universal health care. When you speak with the doctor, be prepared to describe the sensations you’re feeling — and the conditions under which they occur — in more detail than you have in your letter. In the meantime, I suggest that you expand your definition of sex. Use your hands, your mouth, the backs of your knees, your elbows, whatever other body parts you can employ, to give your partner sexual pleasure. The same applies to him — work on finding ways to make you feel good that don’t involve vaginal penetration. Lube up and have him rub his penis back and forth between your crossed upper thighs, giving him the sensation of friction inside squeezed flesh, and giving you some sweet clitoral stimulation. Get creative with it. If you really want to do penis-in-vagina penetration more frequently, you also might consider trying to train your body to relax while experiencing sexual arousal as opposed to tensing. While pelvic spasms are a part of the physical process of orgasm, consistent tension throughout sexual activity can be overkill and can lead to a vaginal canal that feels like you’ve been lifting weights with it. When you feel yourself begin to tense, pause sexual activity until you’ve relaxed. You can work on this with a willing partner or by yourself.
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
I'm a cis female in my mid-20s with a strong sex drive and an open and extremely safe sex life. I find myself being accused — by my last several partners, men and women both (but especially the women) — of not knowing what an orgasm is. I've always experienced my sexual pleasure in a rolling fashion — think running up and down progressively larger hills. I have never experienced the kind of orgasm that people around me endlessly talk about: a huge climax and lots of fireworks and blah blah blah. By the time I finish, though, my legs are shot and the rest of me is worn out. While I much prefer what I have, my partners' insistence is starting to set off my paranoia. Have you ever heard of anything like what I'm describing, as opposed to the huge-O moment? Because, again, its finally getting on my nerves that there might be something wrong with my hookups, despite me being on top of my health sexually. And, I'm frankly the fuck over worrying about it. But, I'm having a hard time getting feedback as a not-straight woman in the deep south. -M The question to answer here is whether you are happy with what you get out of the sexual experiences you have. It sounds like you most definitely are, so screw the opinions anyone else may have on the validity of your orgasms. If you are satisfied with the physical sensations you have during sex, then you are satisfied —regardless of whether you have fireworks hitting you over the head, rolling hills of pleasure, or no orgasm at all. You don’t need to experience satisfaction in anyone’s definition but your own. That said, I’ve heard of, seen, and felt those rolling kinds of orgasm, and in my opinion, they’re super-nifty — both to have and to cause in another person’s body. The only thing that seems to be wrong with your hookups is the insistence of your partners that your pleasure is incorrect in some way. It smacks faintly of Freud’s belief that clitoral orgasms were immature and adolescent, which is to say it is an utterly bullshit method of policing and dismissing female pleasure. 

More from Sex & Relationships

R29 Original Series