By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Jun 05, 2024
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Cite this Response

Alice! Health Promotion. "If I regretted sex the first time, will I enjoy it in the future?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 05 Jun. 2024, Accessed 22, Jun. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, June 05). If I regretted sex the first time, will I enjoy it in the future?. Go Ask Alice!,

Dear Alice,

I've had sex and I really wish that I'd never done it. I didn't really enjoy it, either. It really hurt and I said I'd never do it again. Will I enjoy it next time?


Dear Reader,  

You’re not alone in having mixed feelings about choices related to sex. After all, sex can be thrilling, confusing, disappointing, nerve-wracking, all of the above, or none of the above. If you never choose to have sex again, that’s completely okay. You have the right to choose if, when, and how you want to have sex, and you’re allowed to define and redefine these boundaries as your feelings evolve.  

There might be several reasons why it hurt, especially if this was your first time having penetrative sex. For some people who are assigned female at birth (AFAB), it’s possible for the hymen (a thin, flexible piece of skin at the entrance of the vagina) to stretch or tear for the first time during sexual intercourse. This can result in discomfort, pain, and light bleeding. Entry pain during initial penetration can happen if there isn’t enough lubrication—this can be either natural lubrication or the introduction of synthetic lubricant. Deeper pain in the lower abdomen can be caused by deep thrusting and may be worse in certain sex positions. It’s also possible for emotional factors like stress, anxiety, fear of intimacy, and low self-esteem to hinder arousal or cause your pelvic floor muscles to tighten, leading to pain. 

For those assigned male at birth (AMAB), lack of lubrication can also cause pain, discomfort, and skin irritation both vaginally and anally. Sometimes, a curved penis can lead to painful erections and make penetrative sex difficult. It’s also possible for uncircumcised people to develop a tight foreskin that might tear or bleed when pulled back on an erect penis. As for pain during ejaculation, urinary tract infections (UTIs) or certain medications like antidepressants could be the culprit.  

If you do choose to have sex again, some discomfort may still occur. However, if the pain doesn’t subside or becomes worse, it’s best to speak with a health care provider about your symptoms. Many underlying conditions can cause painful sex. For instance, vaginismus often causes pain during penetration. Deeper pain in those AFAB can also be a sign of endometriosis or uterine fibroids. A health care provider may be able to perform a physical examination to pinpoint the cause of your pain and recommend treatment if needed. 

While it’s unclear exactly why you experienced the pain you did, taking some time to reflect on your physical and emotional responses might help you get to the bottom of it. This practice may also help you develop a better sense of whether you would like to have sex again in the future or not. Some questions you might ask yourself include:  

  • What did I not like about sex?  
  • Did I feel comfortable and safe with my partner?  
  • Were my boundaries respected?  

Engaging in any sexual activity requires consent, where all parties willingly agree to participate in the activity. Consent is a choice that all parties make without pressure or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It also is something that anyone can change their mind about at any time. Without consent, the sexual activity would amount to a form of power-based violence. If you believe you’ve been sexually assaulted, organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) can provide medical support and assistance. 

You don’t have to have sex again unless you want to, and you don’t have to do anything until you’re ready. If you do decide to give it another shot, some tips to reduce discomfort can include:  

  • Talking to your partner(s): Communicating your boundaries, concerns, likes, and dislikes can help them better understand what you’re comfortable with. It’s always okay to let your partner(s) know that you want to slow down, take a break, or stop during sex if something doesn’t feel right. 
  • Getting in touch with yourself: Engaging in solo exploration can help you to get in tune with different sexual sensations and help you figure out what feels good for you. 
  • Mixing it up: Using lubricant, engaging in more foreplay, trying various types of foreplay, and experimenting with different positions and toys can help to enhance arousal and make penetration more pleasurable. That said, sexual pleasure doesn’t just have to be about penetration—the body has lots of other erogenous zones that you can explore!  

Figuring out what works for you might take some patience and experimentation. Whatever you decide to do (or not do), the most important thing is that you feel comfortable, safe, and respected.  

All the best!

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