Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hurting & Bleeding First Time Having Sex


Hurting & Bleeding First Time Having Sex
Multiple Responses:
Losing your virginity can seem scary, and the range of myths surrounding it doesn't help. In most cases, though, penetrative sex should not be intensely painful, even on your first time. Follow along after the jump to learn how to mentally and physically prepare yourself.

Part 1 of 2: Before Having Sex
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Try to feel comfortable with your own sexuality. Most people fear the unknown, and it's easy to get anxious if you don't know what's coming. Feeling tense and nervous will put a damper on the experience, in addition to making your vaginal muscles clenched and more prone to pain. Instead of letting anxiety take over, try to find ways to relax and become educated beforehand so you feel confident in the moment. Here are some strategies to try:

Read up! Knowing exactly what goes where, what's normal, and what to expect can help ease a lot of your anxiety about having sex for the first time. Planned Parenthood, The American Academy of Pediatrics and Scarleteen are good places to start.

Know your body. Understanding your own anatomy can help you feel more confident, especially if your partner is also a virgin. It's important to figure out what you enjoy, so you can communicate that to your partner and ensure that you both have a good experience. Masturbation can help with this, or you can simply resolve to be communicative while you experiment with your partner — whatever you choose, try to pay attention to how you respond to different touches.

Approach sex with a positive attitude. When you lose your virginity is a personal choice. If you feel extremely guilty and stressed out at the prospect, maybe it's better to wait. Remember you can only have one first time, so make sure it will be meaningful for you.

If you've decided that this is what you want, though, then take steps to cast the experience in a positive light. Focus on making it an experience that brings you closer to your partner and gives you an opportunity for personal growth.
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Take a trip to the drugstore. There's at least one item you can buy ahead of time to make losing your virginity a little easier. Consider picking up:

Lubricant, really useful because it will ease a lot of the pain and prevent vaginal tearing.

Condoms. This is tricky. In theory they will help help prevent pregnancy and help stop the spread of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) and that might make you less anxious. But actually, you're better off without. Your first time isn't just physical, it's emotional, about giving yourself wholeheartedly and trustingly to your partner and finding fulfillment that way. If you can't do that, perhaps you're not ready for sex, or you're with the wrong guy. So leave the condoms on the shelf. There are better forms of birth control anyway.
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Talk honestly to your partner. Having sex with someone you trust can make your first time a lot less nerve-wracking. He should be considerate of your fears, focused on making sure you have a good experience, and willing to help you through the process. If he pressures you too much, or doesn't seem very concerned about how having sex might affect you, maybe it's best to reconsider.
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Know what your hymen is. The hymen is a thin membrane that partially covers the vaginal opening, and almost every girl is born with one. It starts to wear away over time due to a variety of activities, such as playing sports, tampon usage, menstruation or normal movement. Here's what you need to know about it as far as losing your virginity is concerned:

You probably have a partial hymen. If you're a teenager, chances are that only part of your hymen is left — which is normal, particularly if you've already started having periods. If you want to investigate more, you should be able to see your hymen easily with the help of a flashlight and a hand mirror.

If you do bleed, it shouldn't be very much. Any bleeding you experience after losing your virginity should not be on the same level as having a period. Instead, it should only be light spotting for a few hours after. Some girls won't bleed at all.

Breaking your hymen shouldn't be overwhelmingly painful. Actually, if you do experience pain during your first time, it's probably because you're not used to the feeling of penetration and you're clenching up your muscles — not because your hymen has nerve endings (spoiler: it doesn't). The good news is, although you can't control your hymen tearing, you can control how relaxed you are.
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Get acquainted with how you're angled. If you can help your partner ease into you at the correct angle, you'll avoid some potentially painful fumbling. Most girls aren't straight up and down, but instead angled back toward the spine or forward toward the belly button — both directions are normal.

If you regularly use tampons, you're one step ahead. Take note of how you approach inserting a tampon, and try to recreate that same angle when you're starting to have penetrative sex.

If you don't use tampons or haven't otherwise engaged in any vaginal penetration, it's probably a good idea to figure it out before you have sex. Try using tampons on your next period, or inserting a finger next time you're in the shower. Aim toward your lower back; if that doesn't feel comfortable, shift forward slightly until you find a point that's comfortable.

Part 2 of 2: While You're Having Sex
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Pick a stress-free location. If you're constantly worried about getting caught, you might not have much fun. Make it easier on you both by choosing a time and place where you can be sure you won't be disturbed.

Look for privacy, a comfortable surface to lie down on, and a time when you aren't worried about being on a schedule.
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Set a relaxing mood. Loosen up by making the atmosphere stress-free. Get rid of any distracting clutter, shut off your phone, and remove anything else that might make you feel nervous or keep you from focusing on your partner.

Try some of the tricks that medical offices, dental offices or beauty salons use. Dim lighting, soft music, and warm room temperature are all meant to make you feel safe and comfortable.

Consider taking some time to groom yourself beforehand so that you feel relaxed in your own skin. Take a quick shower, use scented lotion, style your hair, or do whatever else makes you feel pretty and confident.
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Take your time. Try to think of sex as a marathon, not a sprint, and focus on enjoying your partner without rushing. Don't try to get right to it, spend time figuring out what you both enjoy. Start with kissing, move to making out, enjoy how he fondles you and stick to whatever pace feels most comfortable for both of you.

Here's an extra bonus to doing plenty of foreplay: as you become more aroused, your natural lubrication will increase — making it easier for him to enter you painlessly later on.
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Communicate with him. Try not to be afraid to ask for what you need in the moment — he should be more than happy to help you. Slowing down, moving gently, or using more lubrication are all things you could suggest to ease the pain of your first time.
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Do some aftercare (optional). If you're really struggling with the pain or experiencing bleeding, try to deal with it before it becomes too aggravating. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever (do not take aspirin if you're under age 19), clean up any blood, and wear a light pad for a few hours.

  • If you feel like tonight is not yet "the night", don't be ashamed to postpone it. A caring partner will value how you feel above anything else and will not try to rush you into something you are not ready for. If you change your mind, it is okay to say so!
  • You might get the urge to go to the toilet (be it number one or number two) during sex. It's normal. It will go away after couple of times you have sex.
  • If you don't feel very confident about your body, remember that candlelight is always an option, and may feel more romantic and sexier than electric light or complete darkness.
  • If you experience excruciating pain or heavy bleeding that lasts for a day or more, see a doctor.
  • Consider making an appointment with a gynecologist after you become sexually active.
  • Always use a water based lubricant, not Vaseline, oil, moisturizer, or any kind of greasy substance.
  • Even if you're partner is fully experienced, no one's first time is absolutely perfect, so leave your expectations at the door. No one will expect you to be a pro.
  • Don't give in to pressure from your partner. It's your decision, not anyone else's.
  • Don't drink or take any kind of drug out of fear of pain. It could make it much worse.
  • If you are planning on losing your virginity and your partner has had sex with other people, carefully consider that sexually transmitted infections (all STDs are STIs) are a serious matter. STIs are spread through vaginal, anal, and oral intimacy. You can have an STI and never know, and pass it on to others too. You can decrease your changes of getting an STD by using condoms, dental dams, and other barrier methods. For more information, see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
  • If you take birth control pills and are taking other medications such as an antibiotic, this can alter the effects of your birth control. You should always consult your doctor before starting any medications along with your birth control to see if there will be any negative effects.
  • It is possible to get pregnant the first time you have sex. Condoms have one of the highest failure rates among the most common methods of birth control and by definition get in the way. So if possible, use another form of birth control.

What is virginity?
A 'virgin' is traditionally seen as someone who has never had sexual intercourse before. However, people have different ideas about what 'losing your virginity' means. For some, it's having heterosexual sex for the first time. For others, it can mean having any sort of sex – including gay or lesbian sex – for the first time.

Does oral/fingering/anal/hand jobs count as losing your virginity?
This is a difficult question, and again, people have different views. Whether you think these things 'count' or not, don't forget that all of them can transmit sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). And whatever you think 'being a virgin' means, remember that the most important thing is making sure you're ready before you do anything sexual, whether it’s the first time or not. There's nothing wrong with being a virgin, and you shouldn't feel like you have to go further then you are comfortable with because of peer pressure.

Won't I look inexperienced if I admit it's my first time?
No - be honest with your partner. There's nothing embarrassing about telling them that you haven’t been with anyone else. If you're close enough to someone to be thinking about having sex, you should be close enough to be able to talk honestly to him or her.

"We've sort of decided to wait a bit longer before we do it. I mean, we have kissed and felt each other and all that sort of thing, you know, maybe just going a little bit further each time"

Won’t I be judged if I admit that I’ve had sex before?
Again, it’s usually better to have enough of a trusting relationship to chat openly about your experiences. You deserve not to be judged. If anyone makes you feel bad for things that have happened in your life, they’re probably not good enough to give your time to. Remember that there is no definite way of knowing if a girl is a virgin or not, a lack of bleeding is not proof (see 'will first time sex hurt' below).

I’m getting married and have not had sex before…
In some countries, it’s common for young people to get married. Sometimes families arrange the marriage, sometimes not. You may have already been in a relationship with your partner, or you may not know your partner very well. Whatever the situation, talk to your partner about sex before you do it, and don’t feel like you have to rush into it on your wedding night.

Will first time sex hurt?
First-time sex can be painful or hurt, and some girls or young women do bleed a little bit. The bleeding usually occurs because the girl has a hymen which breaks the first time she has sexual intercourse.

The hymen is a small piece of thin skin which goes across the opening of the vagina and protects it when she is young. It has some gaps in it where the blood can come out when she has her period. Sometimes a girl might already have broken her hymen without knowing about it. For example, this can happen as a result of playing sports or horse riding.

Sex the first time shouldn't be painful or hurt for a boy or young man, but he can make it easier for his partner by being gentle and taking it slowly - try to make it special for you both.

Is the first time someone has sex enjoyable?
Some couples say that on their first time they both enjoyed it, other couples say that neither of them had an orgasm. It's an individual thing, just try not to expect too much from your first time - like anything else, it takes a while to learn about your body and about your partner's. Just make sure that you're ready and you've got contraception sorted out.

“What was it like? - Well it's difficult to describe because I'd never felt anything like it before really. I'd had orgasms through masturbation before, but sharing yourself with someone you love and respect was really good. It brought us closer together. ”

I recently had sex for the first time, and it really hurt. Is this normal, and what can I do to make it less painful?

Experiencing pain the first time you have sex is quite common. There are a variety of reasons why this may have happened in your case. Maybe your hymen (a thin membrane of tissue that partially blocks the vaginal opening) was still intact. Or, perhaps you weren't sufficiently aroused. When you're turned on, the vaginal canal lengthens and expands (so your man's penis can fit), and you produce lubrication (to prevent uncomfortable friction from his thrusting). It's also possible that you were just nervous (after all, it was your first time), which would cause your vaginal muscles to tighten, making penetration more difficult.

The great thing about sex: The more experience you have, the easier — and more enjoyable — it becomes. So, when you do the deed again, make sure you indulge in lots of foreplay. Try to relax and just focus on how great your guy is making you feel. It will also help if you add water-based lube to your vagina for easier penetration. Make it part of preplay by having him lube you, then return the favor and apply it to his condom-covered erection right before he enters you.

Once he's securely inside of you, start off nice and slow. In other words,you don't want him thrusting full throttle the second he penetrates you. It's important that you communicate to him what feels good and what doesn't. You can let him know what you need by saying things like, "A little slower," "Not so hard," "Just like that" and so on. Since your natural lubrication will wax and wane throughout the session, keep the lubricant at hand so you can reapply it any time you start to get a little dry. Also, you might want to try a woman-on-top position, which will put you in control of the depth and rhythm. Once you get used to the ins and outs of sex, it should be a lot more comfortable — and fun. However, if the pain still persists after several sack sessions, you might want to get checked out by your gyno.

Question: Does Sex Hurt the First Time You Have It?
I'm not sexually active yet, but I'm still nervous and kind of scared about having sex because I'm told it hurts. My boyfriend and I plan on waiting until we are older, and he says he will be as gentle as he possibly can, but I'm still scared!

Answer: It's true, sex can hurt the first time - not only because the tearing of your hymencan cause you some discomfort (keep in mind, though, that your hymen might already have torn at some point in your life), but because, well, sex for women isn't usually all that pleasurable until they've had some experience with it.

What feels good to some women won't feel good to others, and the feeling of having a penis in your vagina can be unpleasant or even kind of painful until you figure out what feels good for you. Sex won't always be such a drag, but your first couple of experiences are more likely to be awkward than fun.

That's why it's so important to have sex for the first time (and first several times, really) with someone who respects you, and who will slow down or stop altogether if you ask him to. You can learn a little more about what I mean in this article:


When I lost my virginity, it was sort of a two-step process. We tried one night, but it hurt too much, so we stopped and decided to wait until I was a bit more relaxed. I bled a tiny bit.

The second time was a few days afterward, and then, because his penis broke through my hymen, I bled, though not much. It IS different for every girl; some bleed a lot, some only a little. Though I didn't bleed that much during, the next day I did. This is normal if it happens to you; it's just because your vagina has been stretched and irritated.

About the pain: It hurt for me quite a bit, but it's different for every girl. It depends, I suppose, on how high your tolerance for pain is and how thick/thin your hymen (it's a membrane) is.

Well...if you're hiding the fact that you're going to have sex from your parents...I'm not quite sure you're ready. At least talk to your mother. But if you don't think your parents will be OK with the fact that you're about to have sex, then go to your local drugstore and buy condoms (latex is most effective, though in rare cases, some women CAN be allergic. It's not that common though.) Unless you're 18 +, I think you need parental consent to be prescribed brith control pill by an OBGYN.

If you absolutely don't want your mother to know (which I'm not really advising, but it's your choice) then maybe lay a towel onto your sheets so the blood won't leak on your sheets. Then just soak the towel after to get the blood out. Or, you could always just do your own laundry. However, I don't advise hiding it from your mother.

Though condom and birth control pill are better, some women choose not to be on the pill and use only a condom, which is quite effective. Just make sure it's put on correctly, there are no tears, that it's not expired, that it's intact, and that there's a little extra room at the tip for the ejaculate.

Hope this helps. Best of luck to you and your boyfriend.

(1) Dear Alice,
I had my first sexual experience on the weekend. Now I'm still bleeding. It's been about two days. Is this normal? How long does it last?
Hi Alice,
Recently, my boyfriend and I were fooling around and he was fingering me. He has really big hands with really long fingers and, for the first time, I felt a lot of pain followed by a lot of pleasure. After he was done, I checked my underwear and it was drenched in blood. I am assuming that my hymen was broken but I didn't think it was supposed to bleed for over two days and certainly not this much. Is this normal or is something else happening?
Dear Confused and Reader #2,
It is normal for some women to bleed after having sexual intercourse for the first time. Bright red in color, the bleeding is caused by stretching of the hymen until it tears. If the bleeding continues, it will turn dark red and trail off until it stops, typically within a few days.
If a woman is penetrated with fingers and experiences bleeding, there are a few causes. If she's a virgin, it's likely that her hymen has been torn. It's also possible that her vaginal walls have been scraped by her partner's fingernails, in which case it's important for her to be examined and get treatment so that she does not develop a vaginal infection.
In either case, a woman needs to see a health care provider for a check-up if:
  • bleeding is significant (is heavier than the first couple of days of her period, is constant, and/or soaks through a tampon and a pad)
  • bleeding persists for more than a few days
  • there is pain that does not get better
  • she is worried about anything (for some peace of mind)

In order to heal, it's important not to have any vaginal penetration (no penises, fingers, tampons, etc.) and orgasm until after the bleeding has completely stopped. If bleeding returns after vaginal penetration or orgasm has resumed, then go to a health care provider for a check-up.

While it's highly likely that the bleeding is in response to a sexual act, it's also quite possible that it may not be related. If the bleeding starts out as dark, rather than bright, red in color, then there may be bleeding from the cervix or higher up in the uterus. This is not normal after first sexual intercourse and needs to be looked at by a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Bleeding After First Intercourse
How long is normal for bleeding after a girl's first sexual intercourse to occur? Is there discomfort? For thousands of women, these questions have remained a conversation topic and even a source of anxiety. As a result, we would like to enlighten women to the facts. This article aims to answer the most frequently asked questions revolving around vaginal bleeding after a girl's initial experience with sexual intercourse.

What causes bleeding after losing your virginity?
The most common cause of bleeding after a girl's first sexual intercourse is the rupture of the hymen or corona. The hymen is a thin membrane covering the vaginal canal. During your first sexual encounter, it may rupture due to penetration.

However, the rupture of the hymen is not the only reason for this bleeding. It may also be due to normal menstruation during a girl's first sexual intercourse.

How to determine if the blood is from menstruation or loss of virginity?
Blood from menstruation will be heavier and the flow will last longer than blood resulting from initial penetration of the hymen. Additionally, blood from your period normally coincides with other symptoms such as cramps and mood swings, whereas blood from the loss of your virginity is not accompanied by these symptoms.

Is spotting normal after losing your virginity?
Many women experience spotting 1 to 3 days after having intercourse for the first time. It is a normal side effect of losing your virginity, but if it exceeds 3 days, contact a physician.

Is discomfort normal?
This will differ for each woman, but it is common to experience discomfort after your first time having sex. This discomfort will typically be in the form of a swollen and tender vulva.

How long does bleeding after losing your virginity last?
This bleeding should be minimal and brief. Extremely heavy bleeding is a cause for concern and should be addressed promptly by a health professional.

For vaginal bleeding to be characterized as "abnormal," it will likely involve continuous flow exceeding 2 to 3 days, and will be accompanied by additional signs and symptoms that are not normally experienced. Immediate medical attention is recommended if this bleeding persists for more than 2 to 3 days.

How to prevent bleeding after losing your virginity?
Vaginal bleeding after initial sexual intercourse is common among women. Proper lubrication, arousal, and relaxation before and during sex may prevent this side effect. Certain sexual positions like "woman on top" will not only enhance the experience, but it may also enable the woman to control the situation, which may in turn prevent the penis from rupturing the hymen.

Is bleeding after sexual intercourse a good indication of a girl's prior virginity?
Most people believe that bleeding is a good indicator of a woman's virginity. In other words, if a woman doesn't bleed during what is expected to be her first experience with sexual intercourse, then it is no longer believed that the girl was previously a virgin, However, this idea is deeply rooted in cultural stereotypes and is actually a common misconceptions, as opposed to a scientific explanations.

According to a 1998 scientific study spearheaded by Dr. Sara Patterson-Brown and published in the British Medical Journal, 63% of women reportedly didn't experience bleeding after their first sexual intercourse. Although this study has some gray areas, it revealed an important piece of information: Not all women bleed after their first sexual intercourse, because the structure of the hymen is not the same in all women.
In some cases, early defloration or rupture of the hymen happens without sexual involvement. This is particularly true for women who are involved in strenuous exercises or physically demanding sports like horseback riding and gymnastics. On the other hand, some women unintentionally rupture their hymen through such activity as manual insertion of a sex toy during masturbation. Furthermore, some women are not even born with a hymen.

These are just some of the answers to the questions commonly asked by women who experienced bleeding after losing their virginity. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to consult your gynecologist.

go_warriors_cc asks:
How long after a girl's first time should they bleed for and how heavy should they bleed?

Heather Corinna replies:
There aren't any "shoulds" here. Not all women bleed with first-time intercourse or other kinds of vaginal entry: in fact, most don't. Why some women do -- and for how long they do -- and some don't also varies.

As to how many women do and don't bleed after first intercourse, very little scientific study has been done on that. That's unsurprising since bleeding from one specific act of intercourse (rather than it happening with frequency) often doesn't have any real medical relevance, and healthcare providers and sex educators -- if we've done our homework -- also pretty much have the answers we need already. One study which was done, cited by my friend Hanne Blank in her book, Virgin: The Untouched History, was an informal one in 1998 published in the British Medical Journal by Dr. Sara Patterson-Brown. She found that at least 63% of the women she asked about bleeding and first intercourse reported that they did not experience bleeding. We say at least because in her study, some of the women she asked about it couldn't remember. (And if that surprises you, please understand that the idea no one will ever forget every detail of their first time simply doesn't hold up to reality: some people, especially over time, wind up remembering little to nothing about it at all.)

We know that some women have bleeding and that others have none. For those who do, how much is something else that varies, largely because what causes the bleeding varies. Some women who have bleeding will only lightly spot for a few hours, others will have near-period level bleeding for a day or two, some more or for even longer.

For the most part, just like bleeding from any other part of your body, bleeding that comes with or follows intercourse or any other kind of sex is due to an injury. How can injury happen during sex? In a few different ways:
1.) If a person with a vulva isn't aroused (sexually excited) enough, or at all, before and during entry, often the vaginal opening and vagina will have not loosened and/or self-lubricated enough for entry or intercourse to be pleasurable for her or truly workable. In other words, it may be possible, in that their partner can manage to force their penis (or whatever else) into the vagina, but it often won't feel good to that receptive partner, and often results in tearing of or abrasions to the tissues of the vulva, vagina or cervix. Suffice it to say, if a woman isn't consenting to sex at all, but is sexually assaulted, bleeding is very common for this reason.

2.) When a partner is too rough. If a partner is too rough or forceful with their penis, fingers or a sex toy, whether a woman is aroused or not, that can cause injury and bleeding.

3.) Because of an infection or other medical condition. For instance, the sexually transmitted infection Chlamydia can sometimes cause bleeding with intercourse. The STIs Gonorrhea or Trichomoniasis can also cause bleeding. So can endometriosis, fibroid tumors, vaginitis, yeast infections, uterine or cervical polyps, cervical dysplasia and other kinds of cervicitis, and more rarely, cervical cancer. Because of cervical tenderness during pregnancy, some pregnant women experience bleeding from intercourse, too. Another possibility for women much older than you are is that menopause is playing a part: decreasing levels of estrogen that accompany menopause can cause vaginal walls to become thin, making them less flexible and resilient.

4.) If the corona or hymen is still in the process of wearing away or has worn away very little, and that intercourse or entry tears (in which case this is bleeding usually actually due to #2), stretches or erodes it. This is the reason people tend to most commonly think is why vaginal bleeding with intercourse happens: some people even think it's the only reason. Age can be a big factor when this is the cause. Because this tissue wears away over time, the younger a woman or girl is when she has intercourse the more likely it is that there's more of the corona to wear away, and the more likely it is there will be some bleeding. Consider that in our modern day, for as much as you hear adults talking about how young people having sex in their teens and twenties are, many women in history, and in some places still, had first intercourse (and marriage) at even younger ages than now. So, when it comes to specifically hymenal bleeding, it's something we likely see less of now than we did 500 or more years ago.

As well, arousal and lubrication is an issue with this one, too. The corona is usually very stretchy and flexible, so even someone who has one that's not yet eroded enough to be totally out of the way can have pleasurable sex without bleeding from that tissue when they are aroused and lubricated enough, be that lubrication from their own bodies or from a bottle. In that case, the corona often just slides to the side of the vaginal opening a lot like the inner labia stay to the side during intercourse.

Based on what we know from medicine, and what sex educators know from talking to people about this, the first three situations are the most common causes of vaginal bleeding, not the last.

A lot of people do mistakenly think that bleeding is a "must" or always happens, and that when it does it's always about the hymen/corona and one big reason for that has to do with outdated cultural ideas more than anything else. The same people also often think first-time intercourse usually or always will be -- or even should be -- painful. And that's not true, either. The most common reasons for intercourse being painful are also often 1 - 3 above, not 4.

To understand why people think the way they do about this, it's helpful to consider history. We get asked what you're asking a lot, and have a lot of women writing in worried that they didn't bleed, and also hear from male partners who don't trust the sexual history of female partners who didn't bleed. So, I'm going to dig in here.

For a very long time, before there was the better understanding of women's bodies and sexuality we have in this century and some of the last, it was near-universally thought that women who had not had intercourse or any other kind of vaginal entry had a seal on the front of their vaginas (the hymen) which was only "broken" by their first sexual partner. The idea was that when that was broken -- people still talk about "popping the cherry" and this is where that comes from -- a woman would bleed, and if a woman did not bleed during first intercourse, that's because someone else "broke her seal" already.

Some of this was based in ignorance, and some in seriously hardcore sexism and viewing women, and our bodies, as property. The idea that women needed to prove a male partner or spouse got what they paid for (through most of history, marriage involved financial exchanges and benefits) when they married a virgin was the norm for most of history in many cultures, most certainly including Western culture. The idea that bleeding proved a man had truly "broken in" a woman via intercourse was, and sometimes still is, popular. The idea that "breaking in" or "deflowering" a woman was about male power and prowess, same deal. Historically, there have also been some issues of cultural expectations for men and women alike afoot around this, like the notion that a marriage wasn't really bonafide unless it had been consummated, so blood on the sheets proved a married couple had had sex.

Some ideas around virginity, first intercourse and bleeding as proof of virginity also involved paternity. We can always know at a birth who someone's mother is, since we can see an infant come out of her body. What we can't know just by looking -- the paternity tests we have now weren't invented until the 1980's -- is who someone's father is. So, some of the idea was that so long as you had sex with a virgin, proven by bleeding or pain with intercourse, you, as a male, could be absolutely certain that any children that were born were yours.

Lastly, historically, women's desire for intercourse or any other kind of sex was largely ignored, sometimes even considered an impossibility. We always need to understand that for many women through time, their first sex was actually either their first rape or something women just did not because they felt a sexual desire to, but because they understood it was something they had to do for men. If you're wondering why women would have sex like that when they didn't want to, remember that for many, marriage, or doing what men wanted, was a matter of life or death: for many women historically (and for some women still in parts of the world), marriage was the difference between having a place to live and not having one, between having food to eat or starving.

For most of history, sex was considered something that men wanted, that was 100% about men, that women didn't have any interest in but were obligated to do for men and had little choice or voice in, especially once they were married. Because of that, and because historically, first sex for women was not with someone they were in love with or attracted to, we can also know that for some women who had bleeding at first intercourse through history, that was because they were not aroused, were scared, and often sex was everything from only out of obligation to barely consensual to completely non consensual and by force.

Because of all of those kinds of ideas and cultural precedents, bleeding was usually seen as something that better well happen, and because sometimes "proof" needed to be shown that a woman was, in fact, a virgin as she said she was.

Check out this passage from Deuteronomy 22 in the Old Testament, to get an idea of the weight of virginity in history, as well as what the consequences for a woman could be if she hadn't bled with intercourse:

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate. And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; and, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; and they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

The "tokens" they're talking about are something like a sheet or wedding garment with a bloodstain, to "prove" she was, indeed, a virgin. In other words, for many women in history, proving to be a virgin through blood could literally save their lives. In some cultures, new brides had to prove they were virgins on their wedding night by doing things like hanging their sheets outside the next morning for the whole community to be convinced -- by the bloody spot on the sheet -- that they were, indeed, virgins. And to think how much you all worry about someone seeing a menstrual stain on your pants! At least no one hangs them out for the neighbors to gawk at.

Trouble is -- well, there's quite a lot of trouble with that, obviously, but let's just address the bloody matter at hand -- that idea was, and still is, massively flawed.

The corona (hymen) isn't actually a "seal" at all for most women. Rather, it's thin folds of membrane that wear away over time (due to hormones, vaginal discharges, menstrual periods, masturbation and/or general physical activity, as well as partnered sex), even for those who don't ever have intercourse at all. Some women are even born without hymens or with hymens whose appearance is such that you can't tell there's one there at all.

For most women, in childhood, very small openings to that membrane start to form and get larger over time, which is why 12-year-old girls can have menstrual flow, even if they never had any kind of sex. If those openings didn't happen, that flow and other vaginal discharges would get trapped inside. That can happen: some women have resilient hymens, but that's rare, and also is a medical problem that requires a minor surgery (called a hymenectomy), not a normality.

So, plenty of women through history wound up not bleeding at all, absolutely including women who truly had not had any kind of sexual partnership before that time. Because not bleeding could result in things like divorce, a public gynecological examination, being disowned by family or community or even a stoning or other kind of public execution, what many women did was fake bleeding. Many older women actually knew full well, from experience, that this idea that bleeding always happens with intercourse was a farce, so new brides would often be prepared by other women on how to fake bleeding in case they didn't. For instance, brides were often told how to keep a sponge full of animal blood handy so they could insert it into their vaginas to create the appearance of vaginal blood, or to sneakily squeeze it on a sheet in case they didn't bleed. Other women cut themselves on purpose to create blood.

Even in relationships or communities today where bleeding or not isn't such a dire matter, some women are still dishonest with friends, family or partners about bleeding because -- mostly because of all this history -- they worry something is or was wrong with them if they didn't, feel ashamed they didn't bleed, worry someone will question that it really was their first time, or feel they need to tell partners they bled in order to satisfy them.

And of course, because there are other and more common reasons for vaginal bleeding with intercourse, some women had bleeding, but it either wasn't just because of erosion of the corona during sex, or wasn't for that reason at all, but was because of things like a partner being rough, a woman being scared and/or unaroused, or a woman having a health condition that caused that bleeding. The same is true today.

These are the kinds of historical sources that the idea bleeding should or must happen come from. These were (and for those who still have them, still are) really lousy, creepy and inaccurate ideas and precedents that are hardly respectful of women, and most certainly didn't treat women as whole people. They have never been based in the reality of women's anatomy or sexual experiences. When it all comes down to it, they've never really been about women at all, but about the way men and the world at large decided women are or are not valuable based not only in sexism, but in ignorance about our bodies.

So, what SHOULD happen with first intercourse? Ideally, it should start by being something you (or any other woman, as well as her partner) very much want and feel ready for and comfortable with as a whole. It should be something that you only choose to do when a given relationship feels ready for it, including you and a partner having engaged in other kinds of sex or masturbation together before so that you both have a good idea of when you are and are not aroused, what gets you there, and have developed some skills and comfort openly and honestly communicating about sex together, which certainly includes speaking up if something hurts or doesn't feel good, not just quietly suffering in silence or pretending sex feels good when it doesn't. As with any other kind of sex, if it's something that is in any way painful or uncomfortable, it should be something you can feel very free to stop or make adjustments with -- like adding more lube, or going back to other sexual activities that get you more turned on -- as needed. Ideally, it's also an experience that everyone involved enjoys and feels good about, and where no one is coming to it with the kinds of ideas many have through history.

Maybe you will (or did) have bleeding, and maybe you won't (or didn't). In either case, that doesn't tell us, all by itself, anything about you, your value as a person, the state of your virginity or your sexual experience.

In the case you do or did have bleeding, and it was more than spotting, and carried on for more than a couple of days, or if it happens with intercourse often, checking in with a healthcare provider is a good idea. As you know now, that bleeding may possibly be due to a medical condition you need looked into and treated, or an injury from sex you need treatment for, or just an awareness of why it's happening so you can find out how to keep it from happening again.

There's nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to bleeding, just like there's nothing for a guy to be ashamed of when it comes to his body fluids, but you do always want to do what you can to avoid injury with sex, just like we want to avoid injury with anything else. If it does happen, you just clean it up, and then use a menstrual pad if you need to. If you do (or did) have bleeding, you'll also want to chill with intercourse for a few days so that whatever that injury was has a chance to heal.

It probably goes without saying that the one "should" I'd put in this is that if you do have any of the inaccurate or value-based ideas about bleeding with first intercourse I talked about here, I do think you should consider ditching them.

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