Having sex for the first time is often a bit intimidating. After all, you’ve never been up-close and intimate in that way before and, no matter how much research you do in advance, you never know quite what to expect. For women who have sex with women, the “first time” can be a particularly nerve-wracking experience, especially considering the overall lack of sexual education and discussion surrounding lesbian sex.
If this is the first time you’ve had sex with anyone, you probably won’t have any sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but if you’re experiencing persistent discomfort, a strong odour or abnormal discharge down there you may have Thrush or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). These are not STIs, and they’re easily treatable but they can be passed onto your partner through vaginal fluids, so if you have any concerns get checked out. Both BV and Thrush are easily treated with pills or creams – ask your GP. If you’ve previously had sex with men there is a possibility that you’ve picked up an STI (even if you don’t have symptoms) so it’s worth getting a sexual health check-up.
Ideally, you should talk to your partner about safer sex and sexual history before you get intimate. Even if you’re not able to have this discussion, you should educate yourself about safer sex and consider using barrier methods (such as dental dams and condoms).
Next up: being comfortable; you should feel comfortable with the person and the situation, and if you’re not, don’t do it. No amount of pressure or convincing by others will enable you to enjoy the experience if you’re not fully on board. But if you are, and you’re ready to go then your first stop is to make use of your mouth…
To communicate! If you’re nervous, or unsure about where to put what and whether she’ll like it, say so. Ask questions to check she’s happy and comfortable; ask her to let you know how she likes it and if she’s enjoying it. Nerves, however, may prevent her from being that vocal, so be attentive to her body language. If she’s moaning, wet, and moving with you, that’s a good sign.
Even if it’s a one-night thing, you’ll both enjoy it a lot more if you discover early on what works and what doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, don’t worry, practice makes perfect. If you can't seem to touch her in a way she likes, don't feel afraid of asking her to tell or show you what works for her. And vice versa - make sure you're giving her some hints on what works for you too.
The good thing is, that as a woman who’s about to sleep with a woman, you’re already familiar with the surroundings. Masturbating prior to your “first time” is like practicing before the main event, and it’ll help you get used to the layout of the vagina, specifically where the clit, labia and g-spot are located. Remember though that everyone has different preferences and what works for you may not work for them, so again, you’re best bet is to communicate.
When it comes to grooming – do as you please. Hair or no hair, you have to do what makes you feel the most comfortable, and attractive. Try not to take the majority of hairless porn too literally as well; preferences vary, and until you’re at a stage when you can discuss this with your new partner, it’s not important. Keeping your nails trim however is important, as the alternative can be pretty painful.
Additionally, don’t use perfumes or excessively wash your vulva in preparation for your “first time”, or any time after that actually. You want to be clean and fresh but using more than just clear water can change the PH level downstairs leading to the aforementioned joys of Thrush and BV.
A few more pointers…
What qualifies as “actual sex” between women is a debated topic as the lines between foreplay and intercourse are blurred, but the general rule is to make the most of her other erogenous zones, nipples, neck etc, before heading downstairs.
Start slow, stay calm, don’t go in hard and fast because if she’s not lubricated enough, it could hurt her and ruin the mood entirely.
And finally, try not to be fixated on the finish lines. Whilst orgasms are amazing, they’re not the be all and end all.
Good luck, be safe and enjoy!
If you want some help talking to a partner about sex, check out this worksheet which gives you some structure for discussing likes, dislikes, fantasies and safer sex. And for way more detail than we have space for, check out Autostraddle's article on how to have sex for the first time.