Monday, October 26, 2009

The 40-Year Old Virgins

Okay, so she was really 35 years old. But when L., a new patient, revealed to me that she hadn’t yet had sex, she really meant no sex—not the Clinton version of sexual relations, but no penetration or orgasms of any kind with a partner. L. had decided that she was finally ready, but was anxious about what it would be like. Her friends, upon hearing that L. finds tampons uncomfortable, told her, “You’re screwed. You’d better see a doctor for advice.” The irony of “screwed” aside, this was a less than considerate response to L’s concerns.

The average age of first intercourse is around 17 years in the U.S., and roughly 90 percent of us have done the deed by age 24. But that leaves a good number of our sisters who are delaying the first time until their late 20s or beyond. It may be for religious reasons, or cultural, or the mess factor…or one (or more) of a thousand reasons. And given that we’re living in a time when nearly everything is now okay—anal sex, threesomes, vibrators that sing, etc etc—we should be really support all the choices that women make on the subject. Which, of course, includes choosing not to do any of those things, or waiting until the perfect guy, the perfect moment. If a virgin friend asks you for any advice, tamp down your incredulity, be supportive and tell her the following:

* First-time sex may hurt. It may not. For certain, though, nervousness increases tension, which increases the odds that it will hurt. A glass of wine, a massage, Barry White on the Bose—whatever decreases her anxiety is a good thing.

* A test run may help. She can get used to the idea of something in her vagina ahead of time. Her own finger, a dildo or vibrator, two fingers—accompanied with a lot of lubricant.

* Lube, lube, lube. I can’t stress lubricant enough. No matter how wet she thinks she gets, she’ll find lube makes it easier. It’s not just for sex toys and porn stars anymore.

* Set the stage. This is not the time for a quickie; the more time they can spend together, the better she’ll be able to relax, get wet, and enjoy sex.

* Consider being on top. It’s the position she can best control how fast and at what angle he enters her.

* It’s okay to ask a gyno about it. If she’s really concerned, any good doctor should be happy to talk about these issues; many women may not think about a meeting with their doc before they really get down to business.

* Don’t forget the birth control. We can always get pregnant the first time we have sex, whether we’re 14 or 40.

There are some good resources online, but a lot of baloney as well—it’s all another reason an understanding friend can be indispensable. What would you tell the L. in your life?

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