How Do I Lose My Virginity? 7 Tips For Overcoming Fear Around Sex, When You're Ready

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: how to get over a fear of losing your virginity.

Q: “I'm a 22 year old female who just got married about a month ago. And I'm still a virgin. Obviously, my husband wants to have sex with me and I really wanna try it, too. But things in the past have affected me mentally, making my desire "shut off," so to speak, when things get intimate. My mind goes into hyper drive and fear takes over. I've gotten better and seem to be the most comfortable around him (hence why I married him), but it could be way better. He can get me off easily, that's not the problem. Anytime any type of penetration comes into play I tense up and freak out. How do I get past that? I don't wanna be a virgin forever.”

A: Thanks for the question! There can be a crazy amount of wedding night pressure for newlyweds, so I can understand how frustrating this past month must have been for you. You’re with the man of your dreams, you’re madly in love, and you’ve just made this huge commitment to each other. Of course you want your physical relationship to fall in line with the rest of your relationship!

While I get why you want to lose your virginity, it does seem like there might be some warning signs for you to keep an eye on. You want to lose your virginity, but you’re also really afraid of it. That’s a strong reaction. Here are seven steps for working through a fear of losing your virginity.

1. Remember That You Get To Make Your Own Boundaries

First, let’s get started with an important reminder: you get to decide which sexual activities are and are not on the table for you. Your body, your rules. I get that you feel like you should have had intercourse already, and that your husband is eager to, but do you actually want to? It feels scary now, but do you feel the desire to connect with your husband in that way? Or are you actually pretty happy with your sex life as is? It sounds like you’re having plenty of orgasms, so pleasure isn’t really the issue. Try to think of it this way: if intercourse was like anal sex — some people have it, but not everyone — would you still feel like you had to have intercourse?

Of course, this gets complicated because your husband has his own set of boundaries and desires, but it sounds like the two of you have been able to make it work thus far.

2. Be Curious About Your Reactions

It’s impossible for me to say this with any certainty just from your email, but it sounds like there’s a possibility that you may have experienced some sort of sexual assault or abuse. You mentioned fear, tension, and “freaking out” when intercourse seems like a possibility. Those are all signs that your body doesn’t feel safe around sex. Your body might be trying to shut things down rather than risk the fear and pain of having intercourse. You also made a reference to “things in the past.” Do you know that you were assaulted in the past? Do you have any vague memories of abuse?

If you haven’t been abused, try to think of any other reasons why your body may be experiencing that type of reaction. Maybe you had some sort of injury, infection, or other serious medical issue? Maybe your parents or your religion taught you that penetration was “scary,” “wrong,” or “dirty?” I know it’s easy to feel frustrated with your body, but it’s important for you to acknowledge that your body’s reactions may make sense based on your past experiences.

3. Go To Therapy

If you have been abused, you shouldn’t have to work through the lasting effects of your assault alone. You deserve support. Ditto to any other traumatic bodily experience. A trained therapist can help you process your past, get awareness of the ways it’s still influencing your life, and figuring out how to start feeling more safe around sex. At the very least, please check out some of my past articles for more tips on how to have a happy and healthy sex life after sexual abuse.

4. Start On Your Own

If penetration is the thing that feels most triggering to you, you can try taking baby steps towards getting more comfortable with it on your own. Masturbation is one of the best ways to practice. The next time you masturbate, take plenty of time to unwind before doing anything. Take slow deep breaths, counting to five on the inhale, holding for five, then counting to five on the exhale. Start off your masturbation by focusing on your clitoris, so you can get even more relaxed and start feeling pleasure. Then, hold a finger against your vaginal canal. Keep taking slow, measured breaths, and see how your body responds. If you feel any tension or panic, move your finger away and take a few more breaths. If you feel up for it, bring your finger back and try again.

Over a few sessions, gradually work your way up to holding your finger against your vaginal opening for longer stretches of time. Next, you can practice inserting your finger about a centimeter and holding it there. Over several weeks, try getting more and more of your finger inside. As next steps, you can try moving your finger in and out of your vaginal canal, then trying two or three fingers.

Once you get more comfortable with masturbation, you can try practicing penetration with a slim vibrator or dildo. Or you can talk to your OB/GYN or a sex therapist about getting a dilator set (you can also order one online, but it’s a good idea to get some professional input too). Dilators are typically used for women who have sexual pain issues. They come in a set of varied diameters, and you practice inserting them and leaving them in place, to get your body used to the sensation.

5. Slowly Bring In Your Partner

Once you feel fully comfortable on your own, you can go through the same steps with your husband. Slow and steady wins the race here, so take your time! It also might help to think about the specific ways that your husband has been able to set you at ease in the past, since you said that things have gotten better with him over time. Maybe there are things that he used to do, but hasn’t done recently, like telling you how much he loves you before you guys start kissing, or maintaining eye contact while he’s touching you. The past can be a great source of inspiration.

Again, I really recommend reaching out for sex therapy or counseling. Your therapist can help the two of you work together to come up with some strategies for slowly easing your way into it.

6. Don’t Push Yourself

Perhaps one of the most important pieces of advice I could give you is to not push yourself to go faster or further than feels safe. It’s really great that you didn’t force yourself to have sex on your wedding night, and I hope you can keep that up. If you rush yourself, you have the potential to trigger yourself, making sex feel even scarier. Be gentle with yourself! It's also worth talking to your husband about taking it slow. It sounds like he hasn't been pressuring you thus far, but of course it's understandable that he would want to be intimate with the woman he loves. Show him this article and help him understand the importance of you taking your time.

7. Celebrate Your Wins

You’ve got some great things working in your favor — the fact that you feel safer with your husband than you’ve ever felt with another partner, and the fact that he can get you off. Both of those things are amazing. Seriously, there are so many women who would love to find a partner that they not only trust, but that can get them off as well. If you feel yourself getting discouraged during this process, keep reminding yourself — and your husband — of the things that are working.

Wishing you the best of luck!

Images: Columbia Pictures; Giphy