By: Dr. Elissa Helman
Every woman looks forward to her wedding. The dress, the hair, the makeup, the pictures, the fun, the friends, the experience. We have been conditioned since we were little girls to feel pretty and hopeful and excited on that special day of ours.
But what about the wedding night? What about the fear, the nervousness, the excitement, or ignorance about what naturally comes after the big party? What’s going to happen? What should happen? What are you supposed to do on your wedding night?
I’m here to say that despite what you have been told, that totally depends on what you WANT to happen.
As a gynecologist who speaks with many religious women, I get this question all the time. And even though I don’t think you need to have a medical degree to answer it, I’ll put in my two cents.
You could be super nervous, having never touched a man before and want to take it slow. That’s ok. You don’t HAVE to have sex on your wedding night. Take your time until you both want to! Until you feel a bit more comfortable entering into a new physical relationship. It actually may be a lot less anxiety provoking without the pressure. There are ways to postpone your period until it happens. Which may make you feel less stressed about “getting it done”. Does it have to be the stereotypical magical amazing experience? Absolutely not. Could it be? Of course.
On the flip side, you could also be super excited. If the physical chemistry between you two is high and you’re both totally and completely ready – go for it. Have fun. Will it be uncomfortable the first time? Maybe, but it could also be great. Will you bleed the first time? Maybe, but it’s completely normal if you don’t.
During the physiologic female sexual response, the vagina changes. It lengthens, widens, and becomes more lubricated. All due to the emotions and attraction you feel for your partner, along with physical sexual stimulation. If you’ve never experienced this before, it may be hard to realize. But most of the time, when you’re ready, your body knows what to do!
Remember, your new husband is probably just as nervous, scared or excited as you are. We tend to put men in a box and assume that because they are raging with testosterone, they must want to have sex the minute they can and have been trying to contain themselves up until their wedding night. So naturally, they all want it to happen right away. Wrong.
This isn’t always true. They may be just as nervous, scared, excited, or ignorant as you. They may worry they’ll cause you pain. They may worry they won’t know what to do and you’ll be disappointed. They may be scared they are too caught up in the moment physically and aren’t more spiritual about it because that was the message they were told. Or they may have it all together, and will give and receive pleasure in a way that you are both comfortable with.
This is a new experience. A learning experience. For both of you. Go at your own pace. There are no rules.
There is a huge range of messages that women and men will get in their respective kallah and chatan classes. There are many different chumrahs (stringencies), minhagim (customs), and hashkafot (perspectives) surrounding the wedding night and sexual intimacy as a whole.
But to bring the halachot down to the most basic level, the two most important things are having sex with the right person (your spouse) and at the proper time (while not in niddah). The rest of the details are your own choices that work for you in your marriage.
And as I’m not naive at all, there are kallahs who are somewhat physically experienced before marriage. Either they have had sex before or have almost gotten there. I’m not here to condone or condemn those choices. I am here to say that whatever you come into the marriage with, your wedding night is STILL what you make it. Your first time being together as husband and wife is special also, regardless of any sexual experience in the past.
Remember, YOU have control in this.
You never have to do what you don’t want to do.
All in the time that’s right for you together.
Dr. Elissa Hellman is an experienced, board certified obstetrician/gynecologist and chief physician at The Confident Kallah. She has been in clinical practice for over ten years, while also being a resource for the special medical concerns of the Jewish woman. During her years as a clinical OB/GYN, she noticed a gap in women’s health awareness and education as they were preparing to become Jewish brides and mothers. This was her motivation for starting the Confident Kallah telemedicine practice, giving the ability to provide care to more than just her local community. Knowledgeable in the Jewish laws of family purity, including the intricacies of niddah and mikvah, this gives her the background to provide a personalized approach and treatment plan. She can also be found on instagram @theconfidentkallah
As an experienced, board certified obstetrician/gynecologist, Dr. Elissa Hellman is the physician at The Confident Kallah. She has been in clinical practice for over ten years, while also being a resource for the special medical concerns of the Jewish woman. During her years as a clinical OB/GYN, she noticed a gap in women’s health awareness and education as they were preparing to become Jewish brides and mothers. This was her motivation for starting the Confident Kallah telemedicine practice, giving the ability to provide care to more than just her local community. Knowledgeable in the Jewish laws of family purity, including the intricacies of niddah and mikvah, this gives her the background to provide a personalized approach and treatment plan.