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Planning for
your first time

Practical advice for your wedding night

Below is a short list of advice and considerations for your first sexual encounter as husband and wife.

Try to have realistic expectations about your first time:

Most portrayals of sex on TV and movies are unrealistic, so try not to base your expectations on them. Your first time together may not feel “perfect,” but rarely is anything in life perfect the first time. You are two individual people coming in with your own imperfections: you are both in need of growth. Don’t let that reality cause you to despair. Do appreciate the newness of your intimacy and the joy that will come as you learn to work together through the challenges.

Prepare an overnight bag:

Click here for a short guide on things to pack for your wedding night, specifically notes on lingerie and lubrication.

Know that it is okay if you do not complete intercourse on your first night together:

There are many valid reasons the couple may choose to delay intercourse. Some couples may be worn out by the events of the wedding day and want to wait until the next morning when they are better rested. Others may find it helpful to slowly build their physical intimacy over several days. Maybe the bride has just started her period (stress can really mess up a woman's cycles!). Maybe the woman has been charting and knows will likely be fertile on her wedding night and the couple has discerned, through responsible parenthood, they should try to avoid pregnancy at this time.


With these considerations in mind, it is important to remember that sexual union is a key part of your Sacrament of Marriage. Couples should avoid delaying intercourse for a prolonged period of time out of fear or anxiety. Also, couples who choose to slowly build up to intercourse after their wedding should maintain a level of reverence so the husband does not intentionally climax outside his wife.​


Remember God’s presence and the power of prayer:

It may feel strange to think about God’s role in your spousal union, but it is important to remember that all the joy you share comes from God alone. God is not watching you in a judgmental way, but he is blessing you with his graces. You may wish to say a prayer before you begin building to intercourse. One commonly recommended prayer is the prayer of Tobias and Sarah (Tobit 8:5). Another suggestion is to repeat your wedding vows. Discuss your plans for prayer in advance as it can feel awkward or forced in the moment.

Keep some practical considerations in mind:

  1. You may want to shower prior to intercourse. This can help prevent any infections from being developed. (If a woman is susceptible to UTIs, it will be helpful to talk to her doctor for more specific guidance.) You may also find this is a nice way to relax as you transition from the excitement of your wedding day to your alone time with your spouse.

  2. It can be helpful to keep a towel and/or wash cloth nearby to catch the seminal fluid and vaginal discharge post-intercourse. Some couples may want to lay on the towel, although they don’t need to get too distracted by the position of the towel. It can always be moved under you after you’ve completed intercourse.

  3. Doctors recommend urination after intercourse, especially for women. (It is not necessary to urinate prior to intercourse, but it may help you feel more comfortable.) You do not need to rush to the bathroom, but try to clean up within 30 minutes after intercourse. If you are learning a cervical fluid based NFP method, follow the guidelines from your instructor to practice Kegel exercises to dispel any excess seminal fluid after intercourse.​

Understand your bodies:

It is important to note that men are more likely to be quickly and easily aroused than their wives. Women will often need more time to build up to an arousal point. It is rare that a husband is “too big” to fit inside his wife but it may seem intimidating the first few times. The woman’s vaginal muscles may need to be stretched slowly, but the couple should find they can comfortably fit together during penetration. Artificial lubrication will likely be helpful.

The first time of intercourse, penetration may not last long as the husband may be quick to climax. It can be much more challenging for the woman to experience an orgasm and it may not happen during the first intercourse, or even for awhile after. This can feel challenging by is normal. Over time, both the husband and wife will learn to communicate and control their climax points. 

Build your intimacy slowly:

Take time to slowly learn your spouse’s body. You may find it more comfortable to keep your clothes on as you build up. Many couples do not begin with genital contact, but spend time finding other parts of the body that build arousal. Suggestions to keep things slow include giving one another massages and/or cuddling. This is an intimate moment meant specifically for the two of you, and it will be unique for each couple. Relax and remember you have a lifetime to continue learning.  

Will it be painful?

Many women have reported some amount of pain during their first intercourse, but it should not be something to be afraid of. Women must communicate with their husband about their comfort level, and the husband should not push his wife to go faster or farther than she is ready. Pain may be minimized if the woman is aroused and lubrication is involved.

If her hymen is still intact prior to intercourse, there will likely be some pain involved and there may be blood after the hymen breaks. (This is also where the towel will come in handy.) Some might not experience any bleeding, some may find minimal bleeding, and others have reported blood for a couple of days after. It is recommended to not have intercourse again until after the bleeding has stopped. If the bleeding remains persistent a doctor may need to be consulted. 

Pain should not be recurring, so if pain continues a conversation is necessary. It may be that husband and wife need to gain a better understanding of how to help one another become aroused. In some cases, there may be medical reasons the woman is experiencing prolonged or recurrent pain and a doctor should be consulted.

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