Dear Dr. Kate: Vaginal Tearing During Intercourse

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Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City and she answers your medical questions here once a week. To ask her your own question, click here.

Dear Dr. Kate,

My boyfriend and I have been together over a year and a half and we’ve been having very good sex for about that length of time as well. However, for the last two months or so, every time we have penetrative sex it is painful. I feel like the angle is off and my vaginal opening is ripping. After the third time, I checked, and sure enough, the anterior part of my vaginal opening is tearing, into the perineum. Since then, we have tried to find ways to either alleviate the pain or change positions during sex to keep it from happening, but to no avail.

My boyfriend’s penis is quite girthy around the base, and I think that may be the problem. The tearing is quite painful and becomes irritated when I urinate. What can I do to prevent this? What can I do to fix it? Or should I be concerned about an infection or growth causing the sporadic pain?

— Oh Oh Oh Arghhhh

Dear O.O.O.A.,

Good sex shouldn’t make you bleed or hurt. Because you can actually see a tear, I would see your gyno first thing, to make sure that there’s no underlying problem with the skin around the opening of your vagina. If you get the clean bill of health, it may be that your vagina isn’t ready for intercourse when you start — you need to be fully aroused (where your vagina engorges with blood and actually gets wider and longer) and lubricated for maximum comfort. Make sure you’re getting enough foreplay — at least 20 minutes of toe-curling activities — and try using a lubricant. You can also try positions where you control both the speed and the depth of his penetration, like you on top. Also, you might want to check out two other related posts on this site:

— Dr. Kate

dr_kate_100Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.


  1. Gudmorin Dr Kate. My fiance and I had sex and my vagina ended up tearing not only the base but from up down to tha base and i ended up bleeding. Even if i urinate, its always painful. Though i told himabout and and he pleaded dat for now, we shld abstain from sex. Pls wat can i do concerning the pain?
    Peace Sam.

    1. Hi P.S., you should definitely go see a gynecologist as soon as possible — if you don’t have a dedicated one, try the nearest Planned Parenthood. Abstaining from sex until you do is probably a good idea. (Please remember, the information contained on and through the EMandLO.com Web site is provided for your entertainment purposes only. Any advice, guidance, prediction or other message that you receive is not a substitute for advice, programs, or treatment that you would normally receive from a licensed professional such as a medical doctor.)

  2. My husband and I have hit a rough spot in our love making. I’m having trouble explaining the mechanics to him of our problem. Sometimes during penetration he is not fully erect. I cannot find an article anywhere on vaginal tearing that attributes this as a cause. Can you please explain this in medical terms? Thanks Kathryn

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