Details, Details 2: Discomfort

As a consequence of women being on the receiving end of physical penetration in the most common sex acts, for them “Love Hurts” is sometimes literally true. In spite of wince-worthy stories like Kevin Smith’s first encounter with his eventual wife (you might understandably shout “TMI! TMI!”), few men would — or could — continue having intercourse if it gave them significant pain (in the absence of a kink in that direction, anyway). Even if sex was only intermittently uncomfortable, that old Pavlovian process might eventually diminish one’s enthusiasm. “Punishment” can more quickly extinguish a behavior than intermittent rewards can establish one.

You’re probably pretty sure that your wife does not suffer any discomfort of any kind during sex with you, because if she did, you would have heard about it, right? Not necessarily. It is an odd truth that women can be very verbal and forthright about every other irritation or problem in their lives while remaining completely silent about their sexual dissatisfactions.

Part of this, strangely enough, is because thinking of themselves as a good or at least adequate sexual partners is still important, even to the most objectively “frigid” or disinterested woman. This culture tells them that normal women Should enjoy every minute of every sexual encounter, and being A Great Lay means they should be able to take it all the way! harder! deeper! faster! — as all the really HOTTTT women of porn (supposedly) can.

You would be surprised at how secretly embarrassed many of today’s women can be about their sexual “inadequacies” in relation to the wildly enthusiastic Cosmo Girl ideal. So a woman will sometimes tell herself that she doesn’t want to ruin your fun because of a “minor” amount of pain.

I always have to laugh when I see those SPAM emails that offer to extend the length of my penis by 3 or 4 inches, so that I can wield the equivalent of the Scimitar of Scaramouche in bed. Depending on their internal architecture, the time of the month and the state of their arousal, for many women deep penile penetration can hurt — a little or a lot — and the penis doesn’t even have to “hit bottom” (strike the cervix) for this to occur. In any case, most of us would put more lover length way down the list of desirable qualities, and a lot of us would much prefer a can of chili to a javelin, ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo.

There are a couple of ways to minimize the possibility of this kind of pain: make sure she is very aroused when you want to go very deep (the vagina extends in length as she grows more excited) and, be especially careful when you’re going in from behind. An ideal doggie position (at least for older women or those whose ligaments are looser than average) is the elbows-and-knees, raised bottom version, with the head lower than the hips, so that the uterus can settle downward a little toward the stomach — but this takes a moment, so go easy at first.

There’s another reason to wait until she’s more aroused before you try to, er, knock on heaven’s door. It seems that some neural pain pathways are blocked by sexual arousal, so that as sexual excitement increases, stimuli that would be painful under other circumstances doesn’t hurt at all — or can actually enhance sexual pleasure. From a cold standing start, many things will hurt a woman that she might actually enjoy when she’s really worked up. While this phenomenon can’t be counted on to completely fix all discomfort problems, it’s something to keep in mind.

The reason most women appreciate a can of chili more than a spear is not only because vehement penetration can be painful under some circumstances, but because their pleasure is largely felt in the vaginal vestibule, its environs (the “G” spot), vulva and clitoris. The cervix and upper reaches of the vagina are actually relatively poorly supplied with sensory nerves, and that’s a good thing. Otherwise childbirth would be the equivalent of stretching your penis over a baby’s head.

Okay, okay, sorry for that image, but I wanted you to get the idea.

The interior of your wife’s vagina is essentially a direct route to her bloodstream, and its surface is subject to some microscopic wear and tear during every act of intercourse. This is perfectly normal, of course, but it means that a certain amount of care is necessary to minimize problems. If a woman’s urinary, vulvar or vaginal mucosa is suffering from some kind of infection, hormonal imbalance or irritation, intercourse is likely to be less than optimally pleasurable for her. The three crucial factors for preventing pain AND ensuring her pleasure are: lubrication, lubrication, and lubrication.

Even many women don’t realize that it is very common for natural lubrication to be inadequate for optimal protection and pleasure, even when a woman is very aroused, and this is especially true as she grows older. Your wife may not associate some vague discomforts during intercourse (a “rubbery” sensation, for example, or a feeling of the interior tissues being bent or pinched) with a lack of lubrication. Most of the time inadequate lubrication can feel like “enough,” because it doesn’t prevent intercourse, and unbelievable as it may seem, some women have never gotten wet enough “naturally” to optimally enjoy intercourse. They will usually assume that the more-or-less uncomfortable friction they have been experiencing all their lives is what they Should be enjoying!

Even if a woman does suspect that she is not producing enough lubrication, she may not want to admit it to herself or to you, since being able to get “dripping wet” in 3 seconds flat is another cultural ideal of “normal” erotic womanhood these days.

Insufficient lubrication is most problematic outside the vagina, in the labial folds and around the clitoris. While there is little more swoon-inducing for most women than a slippery-slidy stimulation of the clitoris, all too often men attempt to massage it when it isn’t much wetter than a wrung-out washcloth. Although you may still be able to bring her to orgasm under these circumstances, she may not be getting the fullest possible pleasure from the experience — and you want to ensure that each experience with you is All It Can Be, right?

The bottom line is that supplemental lubrication (Astroglide, K-Y, etc.) is almost always welcome, even for young women and those who seem to have enough natural fluids. It can’t hurt to try it, and it might make an enormous difference.

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