The First Night or “honeymoon night” of marriage traditionally means the first sexual encounter for an Indian couple. It is the moment when society legally permits the consummation of the union of man with women. The first night is the most awaited night in one’s life.

Unfortunately, as sexologists, we come across a large number of clients failing on their night. The ‘First Night Failure’ often results in sexual dysfunctions, social maladjustments, marital disharmony and even divorce.

Why failure?

The first night has been given special importance from ancient days. Our Sanskrit Literature gives detailed descriptions and exotic fantasies woven around the first night. In the Kumar Sambhava, Kalidasa takes liberty in describing the love dalliance of the newly wedded Shiv and Uma.

Our cinema has furthermore, glorified the first night. The entry of the Bridegroom in the decorated bedroom, flower bedecked beds, the bride, veil, glass of milk, sweets and the magic moment begins! Today, a large number of novels in vernacular languages are available under erotic titles glamourizes the sexual raptures of the First Night. So, the first night becomes the most special night of a young couple’s life i.e the ‘Golden Night’.

In our culture, till today in many parts of India, adolescent boys and girls are not allowed to interact with each other socially especially once the girls attain puberty. Marriages are fixed by elders. There is hardly any change of courting. The first night, in reality, becomes the ‘First Encounter’ to know each other.         

Some young individuals are scared to death about their performance on the first night. Their fear is doubled by misguiding friends, yellow books, white self-advertised pamphlets by quacks and blue films. They have a feeling of sexual inadequacy, ’Kamjori’ or believe that they have become impotent and life has come to an end.

One of the most worrying question on a man’s mind whether on the ‘First Night’ he will succeed in breaking the ‘virginal seal’ with a bang, as this is supposed to make a successful marriage. Because of this Fear, many eligible bachelors avoid marriage.

Sometimes they end up buying so called sex tonic advertised in lay press or even rejuvenators even prescribed by consultants. To avoid ‘first night’ Failures some of them even visit prostitutes to test their potency!

A woman enters into the first night with anxiety, tension, fear and a variety of other emotions. The greatest worry on the mind of the bride is how she will fare in the ‘virginity test’.

Virginity is considered a virtue. It is a sign of purity. In some societies, the couple is expected to show the bed cover stained with blood after first night, as proof of Virginity!

Thus, the bedroom, instead of being the foundation for developing tenderness, care, warmth, affection, life-long love, pleasure bond, trust, intimacy, and relationship, turns into a laboratory for testing potency and virginity.

The west got the honeymoon problem i.e. first night failures. One does not even find a mention of first night failure in any standard text book of sexual medicine or in Diagnostic and Statistical manual(DSM-IV)

Thoughts of the developed countries

Dr Wadell B Pomeroy, Co-author of the Kinsey’s report, describes premarital intercourse as a training ground for marriage. Lessons learnt without feeling of guilt and fear and the knowledge of good techniques, go a long way in developing relationship. Urge to have intercourse is like any other urges, e.g. playing tennis, swimming or dancing, riding a horse or doing anything which gives pleasure. Premarital intercourse, unlike masturbation, is a means of interaction with another human being and consequently is a means of learning how to live with people. Sometimes, it is learnt too late after marriage that they are not suited to each other sexually.


The ‘first night’ performance as still an important event in one’s life. Failure can lead to disaster!

It is difficult to statistically because of want of actual reporting and documentation. One can say 20% to 30% of couples who seek sex therapy have failed on their first night or at the time of first sexual contact.


The sexual behavior in a human being is the outcome of learning and conditioning Sex being considered a taboo, there is hardly any opportunity for learning. Therefore, ignorance, myths, and misconceptions about sex prevail. 

The most common etiology factor for first night failure in marriage is ignorance about male and female anatomy and facts of sex act. Some couples have unrealistic expectations of sex act.

Other causes of first night failure is tight foreskin in male, tough hymen in female and dyspareunia, etc.

First Night Blues


  • Inadequate sexual information
  • Restrictive upbringing
  • sex is dirty
  • women who enjoy sex are disreputable
  • Guilt
  • Sexual myths
  • Fear of pain, failure, not satisfying partner
  • Fear of STD/HIV/AIDS
  • Organic
  • Dysfunction in the partner e.g.vaginismus
  • Tight foreskin

If failure occurs on the first attempt, the first thing comes in mind ‘Am I impotent?’ The more he tries. The more he fails. He feels something is terribly wrong with him. He feels that due to his past habit of masturbation, he has lost his vitality, vigour and potency. He stops furture sexual advances. It starts a vicious cycle of performance anxiety and ‘spectatorating’ and failure.


  • They may avoid sexual activity.
  • They may continue to have only foreplay.
  • They may have good relationship in other aspects of life.
  • Some may suffer from anxiety/depression.
  • Impotency
  • They may make allegations at each other leading to marital conflicts, separation or divorce.