How to Make Your First Time More Pleasurable and Less Awkward

man and woman undressing in bedroom
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The first time we do anything new it usually feels awkward and uncomfortable. First-time sexual intercourse is no exception. Frankly, losing your virginity can be awkward, uncomfortable, and even painful for both people involved. But it doesn't have to be. 

Tips for Pleasurable First-Time Sexual Intercourse

Here are some suggestions the odds of a pleasurable first time. 

  1. Want it.
    Anyone can be forced to have sex. People can push us physically, psychologically, and emotionally into having intercourse against our will. But no one can force you to feel pleasure. If you want your first intercourse experience to feel good, make sure you really want to do it. If you’re hesitating, maybe you should wait (maybe an hour, maybe a week, maybe until you have a different partner). Remember that intercourse is only one sexual activity, and if you want to do other stuff but don’t want intercourse, than do those other things. It’s a myth that “real sex” requires intercourse.
  2. Like sex.
    Many of us are raised with the idea that sex is bad, wrong, dirty, etc. From a health perspective, intercourse can be a safe, healthy and very fun way to interact with another human being. People who hold more positive beliefs about sex tend to report greater sexual satisfaction. Sometimes having enjoyable sex is one of the things that will change your beliefs about sexuality, so you can’t always address one without the other, but if you only hold negative ideas about sex, it can get in the way of you enjoying having it.
  3. Mentally preparing for first intercourse.
    You may never feel fully prepared since you’re trying something you’ve never tried before (and don’t know how it’s going to turn out). Spending time thinking about intercourse and what it means to you can set the stage for a more pleasurable experience. There are no right or wrong answers, but ask yourself why you want to do it, what you’re expecting from it, how you’ll know if it went well or not well, and what you really think of the person you’re planning on doing it with. Talking these questions through with a trusted friend or family member may also be helpful.
  4. Prepare your feelings.
    Even so-called “casual sex” involving intercourse usually evokes some emotional response in us. It’s a safe bet that after you have your first intercourse experience you’ll feel something about it. Knowing your expectations going into it is one way to prepare. There aren’t right or wrong things to expect, but if you’ve never acknowledged your expectations, even to yourself, they can really surprise you afterward, sometimes in an unpleasant way. When you imagine having intercourse how do you think it will make you feel? How do you think you’ll respond if you don’t feel that way?
  5. Prepare your body.
    Intercourse is an activity that can make you aware of your body in a different way. Most of us have good and bad feelings about our bodies, but if you only have bad things to say about your body you may find it gets in the way of enjoying intercourse. Thinking about how you’ll feel physically and what you need to feel safe and comfortable is important to enjoying intercourse. Physical preparations also include knowing what kind of contraception and STD protection you’ll use. See more on that below.
  6. Practice on your own.
    You don’t need anyone else to have a great sexual experience. Before you have intercourse for the first time, it’s ideal if you’ve already had plenty of solo sex (also known as masturbation). This way you’ll already know a bit about how your body responds to touch and sexual stimulation, you’ll have an idea of what you like and don’t like, and you can bring this knowledge to your intercourse experience. Experimenting with penetration on your own is also a great way to prepare yourself for the experience of allowing someone to penetrate you.
  7. If not for love, then for informed lust.
    Related to the “want it” tip above, you’ll find that you enjoy your first intercourse experience much more if it’s with someone you like, love, or lust after. Doing it with someone just because they’re there, or because you’re tired of waiting may not always be bad, but if you’re genuinely into the person you’re having intercourse with, it may increase the chances of pleasure. The flip side of this is that with someone you deeply care for the experience may feel more emotionally risky, but this isn’t a bad thing, it’s just something else to consider in terms of timing.
  8. Get on top.
    If this is your first intercourse experience and not the first time for your partner, you should be on top. Being on top will allow you to control the depth of penetration, the angle, the speed, and most of the movement. If you’ve never been penetrated by another person before you may be nervous about it and tense up, this can make penetration painful. If you’re in complete control of the action, it can ease some of the tension. If it’s the first time for both of you maybe you can talk about who is more nervous, and they get to be on top first (you can switch later).
  9. Use lubricant.
    You might find it awkward to bring this up the first time, but using a personal lubricant can really help increase the pleasure of first-time intercourse. Particularly for women, if you’re feeling tense and nervous your pelvic and vaginal muscles may be tense which can make penetration more difficult and painful. Also, if you’re nervous you may not be producing as much natural vaginal lubrication. In both cases, adding some lube can help in making everything more comfortable, and hopefully more pleasurable.
  10. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
    Both drugs and alcohol get in the way of you paying attention to what’s happening in your body, particularly if you have too much of either. The first time you have intercourse you want to know how it feels. If it hurts, that’s your body’s cue telling you to stop or try something else. And if it feels awesome you don’t want that to be numbed either. Drugs and alcohol are obviously part of a lot of people’s sex lives, but it’s highly recommended that when doing anything for the first time, do it sober.
  11. Use protection and contraception.
    Worries about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases can seriously inhibit your ability to relax and feel pleasure during intercourse. If you’re also worried about having to negotiate with your partner about using condoms and/or (if you’re a male having intercourse with a woman) a second form of birth control, it can make you more tense and nervous. The best way to reduce the impact of these issues is to talk about it way before having intercourse.
  12. Talk first.
    You can do this as a theoretical conversation, starting off with something like, “let's say we were ever going to have intercourse, how would we deal with contraception and STD protection?” If you’re a man planning on having intercourse with a woman, this can seriously work to your advantage. There are many stereotypes about men not caring about protection, so raising the topic may feel like an extra special gesture (even though it’s something you should always care about as much as your partner because STDs don’t discriminate).