It’s very common for people to have questions about vaginal intercourse, or what many people call “having sex” (tip: we know that having sex can be many different things, which is why it’s important to say exactly what we are talking about here!). We’ve put together our top ten tips for vaginal sex to help folx have a safer and more pleasurable experience!
1.Consider What You and Your Partner Want and Feel Ready For:
Even when we know we want to have certain kinds of sex, we may be comfortable with some things and not others. We may, for example, be comfortable having vaginal sex with a condom but not without one or be ready for vaginal sex but not anal or oral sex (or vice versa). Thinking through what we feel ready for ahead of time can make it easier to communicate our boundaries to our partner(s) before or during sex.
It’s also okay not to know exactly what you want! Sometimes experimenting, when we feel safe enough to do so, can be a good way to find out what we do and don’t enjoy. This is why communication is so important in sex – so we can tell our partner(s) “yes, I like that, I want more of that!” or “that felt like a bit too much and I’d like to slow it down” or “I’m not really into that, can we do this other thing instead?” or “I’ve changed my mind and I want to stop.”
Just like with other kinds of sex, everyone will have a different experience with vaginal sex. Some people love it, others think it’s so-so, and others do not like it at all. What we enjoy and do not enjoy can be a lifelong preference, or it can depend on the day, the partner, and the circumstances.
If you and your partner are interested in experimenting, you will be able to discover your own comfort and enjoyment levels with vaginal intercourse or make the decision that it is not for you. If you or your partner are not truly interested in vaginal sex, you may want to have a conversation about boundaries or other ways you want to be sexual together instead. Again, communicating with our partners around our likes and dislikes can go a long way toward more pleasurable, consensual sex.
Firstly, always get consent (the other person’s permission/agreement) about any kind of sexual activity. Even if you really want to have a certain kind of sex, it is never OK to pressure someone into having it with you.
It’s also good to make sure the other person is asking for yours! No one should feel expected to have sex at all or a certain kind of sex or be in any way forced or pressured sexually. If they’re not actively checking in with you about consent, that might be a red flag for behaviours that are not OK. Here is a good article to learn more about consent (content note: these articles talk about sexual assault and abuse):
3.Do it sober or consider limiting drugs and alcohol:
Couples who have sex when sober or limit their drinking and drugs usually have a much better and safer time. Also, when someone’s judgment is clouded by alcohol or drugs, it can be harder to get consent. If someone is very drunk or high, then it can be considered a sexual assault. To learn more, including tips for safer sex when drugs and alcohol are involved see:
4.Where to do it:
Try and find a quiet and familiar setting that is private and where you won’t be interrupted by anyone.
It can be useful and reassuring to think and talk with your partner about reducing the risk of unintended pregnancy (unless of course, you are trying to get pregnant!) before you have sex. Condom use is one method that will reduce the risk of pregnancy and STIs. Condoms on their own aren’t super strong protection against pregnancy though so you may want to use condoms as well as another method. You can learn more about pregnancy and STI prevention from the following sites:
Unprotected vaginal sex carries a high chance of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) being passed, so it can also be good to consider safer sex to reduce that chance. You can learn more about that here:
It is ok to take your time and enjoy the foreplay (the sex that happens before penetration). If you are both feeling aroused (turned on), sex will likely be much more enjoyable. With vaginal sex, the vagina lengthens and expands when someone is aroused and so sex can also sometimes be more comfortable and pleasurable when people take the time to relax and enjoy the process rather than rush to intercourse. When aroused, the vagina also provides its own natural lubrication – fluids that make sex slippery and also therefore more pleasurable and comfortable.
In fact, it’s kind of strange that we call so many kinds of sex foreplay – as if they aren’t as important as intercourse, which is often considered the main act! Sexual activities that don’t involve intercourse are just as legitimate and for some people are the kinds of sex they enjoy the most.
Adding extra lubrication to sex reduces friction and makes things slippery, which can feel better and be less likely to cause discomfort or damage. Less friction is better for the condom as well. If using latex condoms, it is important to use lubricants that are water or silicone-based (like Astroglide, Slippery Stuff) or silicone-based (like Eros’s silicone lube). Never use petroleum or oil-based lubricants (like Vaseline or massage oil) with a condom as those destroy latex! You can buy lube at a drug store, adult store, or online. Many clinics also offer it for free. You can learn more about lube here:
Placing a pillow under the rear of the person being penetrated can help them relax and make the angle of penetration more comfortable. Or, you can consider having the person being penetrated on top so that they can control the speed and depth of penetration.
10. Go Slow and Communicate:
During sex play, ensure that the person penetrated is in control, and communicating to the penetrating person how things are going: how fast to go, how deep to go, when to ease up, and so on.
Secondly, do not just ram the penis (or toy) in! Start with the head first. If that is OK, ease it in an inch or two farther and check comfort levels again. Once it is all the way in, hold it there – don’t just start thrusting. Take as much time as you both need to adjust to each new sensation.
If any of the partners are relatively inexperienced at this, take the pressure off by giving up on goals and concentrating more on enjoying the process. Like so many things worth doing, it may take several tries before everyone is happy with the experience.
Important: Vaginal sex should not be painful. If pain occurs, it is good to slow down or stop. If everyone is ready to try again during that sex session, then relax, and use extra patience, lubrication, and communication. Maybe use just fingers (or fewer fingers) until it is comfortable. If you experience pain a lot of or all time you have sex or the pain is strong enough to concern you, then it may be good to check in with a health care provider.
It can be normal to sometimes have a bit of bleeding with vaginal sex. However, if you often have bleeding during sex, it’s a significant amount of blood or accompanied by pain, then this might also be a good reason to check in with a health care provider.
Those are our tips!