Contemporary Egyptian society holds many old wives tales and taboos when it comes to the subject of marriage, and in particular, sex.  To overcome these social taboos and raise sexual awareness, Dr. Ghada Ezz Eldin, head of the Ma3looma (Information) project, allows people to anonymously ask questions through the project’s website, Facebook messages,, or SMS. eniGma’s Mohamad Nagi had the chance to speak to Dr. Ezz Eldin in an attempt to disprove common misconceptions, and provide some clarity to those who are about to embark on the journey of their life: marriage.

Is intercourse painful for women the first time?

It should not be, but sometimes the man is a little aggressive or is not giving his partner the time she needs to get ready, in which case it can be painful. The man has to make sure that he’s in harmony with her by increasing the duration of foreplay, which helps her body release a natural lubricant; without it the intercourse may be painful.

Will full consummation occur the first time?

Not necessarily; maybe the couple should explore each other first. If it’s easy for them then they should go for it. But if one of them isn’t ready then they shouldn’t continue; they have the rest of their lives together. However, the fact that parents and family follow up the next morning and ask about what happened raises the pressure newlyweds feel on the night to consummate.

Does every woman bleed the first time she has intercourse?

No, it depends on the type of hymen. She shouldn’t bleed much, maybe two drops of blood or so. Sometimes the blood is not even seen. If the hymen is elastic, she might not bleed at all. Also, a hymen may have already been broken from an earlier, non-sexual physical act, such as a sport. There are different shaped hymens and some women don’t have one.

Should couples get tested before marriage?

It’s always good to know the condition of the person you’re about to share bodily fluids with. Couples should be tested for hepatitis B/C. Also getting tested for HIV is a plus, as well as hereditary diseases to be able to make an informed decision regarding reproduction. If partners were previously sexually active, they should get tested for other venereal diseases as well.

Why do some women have problems enjoying intercourse?

It partly has to do with upbringing. Girls are told it’s taboo, wrong, and inappropriate to talk about this, and then they’re suddenly married and they don’t know anything about it. They think that this is the way it should be in our culture. Also, men don’t try exploring what makes women happy, and they don’t discuss it. She may not be enjoying it because he’s not really interested in what pleases her. Part of it can be that the woman is scared of feeling the pain that people told her about regarding sex, so she’s stressed and feels disconnected. On the other hand, women think that their wedding night is going to be painful, and men think that this is their chance to display their manhood and that everything must be done the first night due to social pressures.


What are the different types of contraceptives available?

There are intrauterine devices (IUDs), pills, injections, implants, condoms, and the safe period method. IUDs are inserted into the vagina, don’t necessarily affect hormone levels, and can last for several years. Birth control pills, injections, and implants all contain hormones, and when taken properly are 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, like the IUD. Pills are taken once daily at a specific time, injections are every two to three months, and implants are surgically placed under the skin and can last for three years. Condoms don’t contain hormones but when used correctly and consistently, are 98 percent effective. The safe period method relies on having sex only when the woman is much less likely to become pregnant, before or after ovulation, which is usually one week before or after the woman’s period. It’s only effective for women who have regular periods; otherwise it’s difficult to keep track.

Can you have sex anytime during pregnancy?

Yes, unless there is a problem during the first trimester, which may be real or perceived. For example, if a doctor diagnosed the woman with having a perceived fear of losing the baby, even if there is nothing physiologically wrong with her or the baby. Generally, the pregnant woman may not feel comfortable due to her heightened senses, stress or anxiety. The excessive hormones affect the way she feels, often leaving her bloated and irritated. Otherwise it depends totally on the couple and the woman’s desire.

Do the changes that occur due to pregnancy affect how pleasurable sex is afterwards?

If the baby was delivered naturally, the vaginal opening can sometimes be distended, leading to laxity of vaginal muscles and vaginal stretching. This can change the shape of the vagina and affect its tightness. Kegel exercises, which tighten the floor of the pelvis, can usually help return the vagina to its pre-pregnancy state.