I'm 24 and in my first relationship. I really like the guy, we've been going out for six months, but I get nervous whenever he slips his hand under my underwear. He gets the hint and stops. I don't mind him doing other things (we haven't slept together yet), but I wish I wasn't such a prude. I don't know what he expects and I worry that he will be grossed out, as I only shave/wax the bikini line but not the whole thing. What if he thinks it is ugly? I also don't know what I should expect; he knows I'm a virgin, but I don't know how to speak to him about why I get uncomfortable, and I don't know how to overcome it! I also have a few stretch marks and worry that he will be grossed out by them. Please help?
To read Dr. Glickman's response,
Thank you for sharing this challenging situation. I know that it can be scary to talk about things like this, but these are all really common thoughts.
One of the things that can help when you’re on the edge of your comfort zone is to take it very slowly. It’ll probably help to tell your guy about your discomfort, even if you can’t tell him why it’s there. You could simply say "I have a lot of discomfort around sex." You also might want to do a little solo exploration. It takes the pressure off because there aren’t any partner expectations. Check out the wonderful book Becoming Orgasmic. If you’re looking for tips or ideas for techniques, Tickle Your Fancy is full of suggestions. Once you know a bit more about what you like or dislike, you and your boyfriend might be able to find something that you both like to do.
It’s worth mentioning that vulvas come in all different shapes. (The vulva is the external female anatomy. The vagina is the inside part.) There’s a long history of negative attitudes towards the vulva, but each one is unique and beautiful in its own way. A lot of women have the idea that there’s something wrong with their vulvas because they don’t look like what we see in porn or because they have hair, and I think that’s unfortunate. I strongly recommend getting to know your parts and Scarleteen has a great site about that. It’s geared towards teens, but there's lots of amazing info about sex, bodies, and pleasure.
Another option would be to explore some of these concerns with a therapist. When you have an itch on your back, you need someone else to scratch it. Therapists help us by reaching the spots we can’t reach on our own. Lastly, depending on where you are, you could join a body-image support group. While they tend not to focus on sexuality, they can be an incredibly helpful way to work through our concerns about our bodies and how we (or other people) feel about them.
Working through these challenges isn’t always easy, but it can be very rewarding. Whatever route you choose, I hope you find the pleasure and joy that you deserve.