You can prevent this by waiting until you’re truly ready, planning it out, talking through any anxieties you might have with your partner, engaging in lots of foreplay, using a position that’s comfortable to you, and stopping if you ever feel uncomfortable, physically or emotionally.
Read: How to Make Foreplay the Main Event
4. Engage in Lots of Foreplay
Don’t feel bad about asking your partner to stimulate you using their hands or mouth. “Oral sex is an incredible way to get you in the mood for sex,” says White. “It’s a great way to support relaxation and get you into your breathing.”
During manual stimulation, it can help for your partner to insert a finger or two in to get you used to penetration, says White. But also make sure you’re getting clitoral stimulation — most people with vulvas need that in order to orgasm. “The more your clitoris activates, the easier initial entry will be,” says White.
Take the Quiz: Test Your Knowledge About Foreplay
5. Breathe Deeply
“Breathing helps your body relax and will allow you to connect with your own body, as well as get more intimate with your partner,” says White. “When you breathe deeply, it helps to support your brain-body connection to your sexual center and also will stimulate more blood flow and lubrication.”
Practice deep breathing while you’re masturbating so that it will come naturally during sex with a partner.
6. Stimulate Your Clitoris During Intercourse
Whether it’s with your own hand, your partner’s hand, or a vibrator, clitoral stimulation during intercourse will increase pleasure and prevent pain.
“Clitoris stimulation will help to support orgasm and blood flow and will enhance the pleasure of vaginal penetration,” says White. “The clitoris is responsible for the majority of pleasure you experience during sex. Self-stimulation of your clitoris will help to activate the internal clitoris, which is located around 2 to 2.5 inches inside your vagina.”
Read: Holy Clit Batman! 9 Amazing Facts About the Clitoris
7. Use Lube
The more lubricated you are, the more smoothly things will glide, and the more comfortable sex will be. White recommends using water-based lube, if you’re using a condom. Otherwise, oil-based lubricants are also OK.
“Avoid using petroleum jelly or lotions, as they are not safe for your vagina and can throw off PH balance, and often contain added chemicals which will negatively impact your body,” says White.
8. Do “Sexercises”
Stretches that release tension in your pelvis can help you feel more comfortable during sex. Yoga (especially hip opening positions like warrior stance or pigeon pose) and pilates (particularly leg lifts) are good for this, says White. You can also do squats and bridge poses to strengthen your pelvic floor.
Read: 5 Steps to a Healthy and Orgasmic Pelvic Floor
9. See a Doctor If You Need To
If sex is painful for you despite taking these steps, talk to a doctor, who might refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist. They can loosen your muscles, teach you pelvic floor stretches, and potentially prescribe you a dilator if necessary.
Check in with your partner throughout the experience, and let them know what you are and aren’t ready for. Don’t be afraid to tell them to slow down, change positions, or stop. And don’t do anything just because they seem to want it; check in with what you want.
You are in control of your own body.