This podcast comes from sexual health expert Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH. Dr. Herbenick is a research scientist, co-Director of The Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, and a sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute. She also serves on ASHA’s Board of Directors. This podcast originally appeared on the Kinsey Confidential website. You can also follow her on mysexprofessor.com and Twitter.
Simply click on the play button below to listen to the podcast. You can also read the full transcript below.
QUESTION: My partner and I recently started having sexual intercourse, and neither one of us are virgins. He has a lot of girth, or circumference, to his penis. I've only been with one other person, so I'm not the right size for him. Another problem is that I'm on a low-estrogen birth control and have difficulties with vaginal lubrication, but he doesn't like to use lube. Is there anything I can do to make it easier for us, and easier for me to get lubricated vaginally?
ANSWER: Love, attraction and sexuality are complex.
It can be challenging enough to find a partner who is attractive, smart, interesting, exciting, and compatible in ways that are important to you.
To find someone who has all of these qualities, and whose body fits with one’s own, can be an even bigger challenge. Fortunately, human beings are adaptive.
We look for ways to make our lives (and our bodies) fit comfortably with that of our partner.
Because estrogen is associated with vaginal lubrication, some women do notice a change in their vaginal lubrication when they use a low-dose estrogen birth control pill.
Then again, many women notice differences in their vaginal lubrication throughout their menstrual cycle and regardless of whether or not they are using a hormonal method of birth control (like the pill).
If you would like to try another type of pill, or another form of birth control, to see if it makes a difference to your vaginal lubrication, ask your healthcare provider about your options.
Many women find that they can enhance their ability to become “wet” through vaginal lubrication by spending more time doing the kinds of things that they find sexually arousing prior to attempting vaginal penetration (whether that means sexual intercourse, fingers, or a toy).
For many couples, this means spending more time in foreplay—more time spent kissing, touching over and/or under the clothes, breast touching, back massages, or time spent doing things to your partner’s body that you find exciting or arousing.
It may also be worth exploring your feelings about this partner, as you didn’t mention how you feel about him (do you like him? Love him? Are you romantically or sexually attracted to him?).
It may be worth sitting down and talking with your partner—during a time when you are not about to have sex—and sharing with each other what you each find exciting, arousing and most pleasurable as part of your sexual play.
When a woman becomes sexually aroused, vaginal lubrication tends to increase and a process called vaginal tenting occurs (whereby the uterus tips upward, making the vagina grow in length and width—allowing more room for your partner’s larger size).
It is worth noting that although there is some amount of vaginal expansion that occurs with sexual intercourse experience, the fact that you have limited sexual intercourse experience is not to “blame” in terms of sex being uncomfortable for you two, and your vagina is unlikely to enlarge permanently as a result of having sex with your new partner.
The vagina is muscular and tends to return to its typical size internally, even though the vaginal entrance itself may enlarge with sexual experience or other types of experience (such as vaginal birth).
Also, as wondrous a process as vaginal tenting may be, there is a limit to the amount of tenting that occurs. A vagina can only grow so much.
If your partner’s size is considerable in relation to your body, then a personal lubricant may be necessary in terms of enhancing your pleasure, minimizing discomfort or pain, or simply making intercourse possible at all.
That said, lubricants vary considerably in terms of their consistency and it may be that you two might want to try different types of lubricants so that you can find one that feels good for both of you.
Some stores and web sites (such as Good Vibrations) sell lube sampler packs for just this purpose. Learn more about lubricants and other ways of making sex feel more comfortable in Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered-For Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex.
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