Health

The Truth Behind 'Vaginal Tightness'

March 2nd 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

Vagina myths are everywhere but the idea of "being tight" — and all its stipulations and conditions — seems to provoke the most debate. Some people think a tight vagina is equated with virginity, desirability, and youth, while many men and women believe that promiscuity can lead to your vagina becoming permanently loosened.

ATTN: looked into the physiology of sex and vaginal elasticity to see if there's any truth to the "loose woman, loose vagina" stigma. Turns out there is more fiction than fact to it.

What Happens When You Have Sex.

Before and during intercourse, vaginal muscle tissue contracts and expands, sexuality expert and author Michael Castleman explained on Psychology Today. The sensation interpreted as "stretching out" signals that tissue is relaxing as it anticipates penetration; it's the body's natural response.

In fact, if these muscles didn't unlock a little before intercourse, sex would be rather painful, Castleman explained. There's also the opposite end of the spectrum, when a vagina becomes too tight during sex, a condition called vaginismus. Women who suffer from it experience extreme pelvic tightening during penetration, according to Science of Us. This can occur due to anxiety, PTSD, or physical factors like cysts.

No, Your Vagina Does Not Loosen Each Time You Have Sex.

It's perfectly normal for vaginal muscles to relax as a woman is aroused before and during sex, your vagina eventually returns to its initial state after each sexual encounter, according to Castleman.

“They contract and go back to their normal shape after sexual intercourse and also after childbirth,” women’s health specialist Jennifer Wider, M.D, told Women's Health Magazine.

Rebecca Brightman, an OB-GYN and assistant clinical professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Dan Nayot, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, both told Elite Daily that neither your gynecologist nor your sexual partners can tell how many people you've slept with based on perceived vaginal elasticity.

Still, the myth persists and some women even abstain from sex in hopes of tightening their vaginas, or "revirginizing themselves," according to Cosmopolitan.

Tracy Moore neatly summed up how sexism colors the loose vagina stigma in a piece for Jezebel:

"Looseness as a problem, or a thing used as 'proof' of women's whorishness, has a convenient function: Policing female behavior, putting all the onus of male sexual pleasure on a woman's body, and particularly, on aspects of her body she can't control — always fun."

Here's What Actually Loosens Your Vagina.

While your sex life won't curse you with a scarlet loose vagina, your vagina can stretch over time due to other factors.

Young women who have given birth to multiple children may experience decreased elasticity due to muscle fatigue, Castleman explained: "Their vaginal muscles fatigue and no longer fully contract."

Age can also cause the vaginal cavity to seem broader over time. "With aging, as estrogen levels diminish, the vaginal walls become thinner and less elastic, so the muscles begin to lose their tautness," sex therapist Ava Cadell told LA Weekly.

Can you tighten your vagina?

Gradual vaginal loosening may just be a fact of life, but if you're truly set on altering the state of your special flower, there are both surgical and DIY options.

There are several types of vaginal rejuvenation surgery that allegedly tighten the vagina. Hymenoplasty surgery is said to restore the hymen to a virginal state, while other procedures use lasers to tighten vaginal muscles that have loosened with age. Cosmopolitan reported that a vaginal rejuvenation procedure costs around $7,000 and is not proven to improve sexual pleasure. According to WebMD, no vaginal rejuvenation surgeries are considered routine by the American Society of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Cheryl B. Iglesia, a reconstructive pelvic surgeon at the National Center for Advanced Pelvic Surgery in Washington, D.C., told ABC News that she has done reversal procedures for botched vaginoplasties that made women's vaginas too tight, making sex difficult and incredibly painful.

"It's really concerning, because [the trend] is really reaching younger ages, in their teens," Iglesia said. "I heard of a mother taking in a 16-year-old and 11-year-old wanting to get it done. It's just not right."

For most women, vaginal Kegel exercises are a more practical option. They involve repeatedly squeezing and releasing pelvic floor muscles and can also allegedly increase sexual pleasure and improve health.

“As women age, their hormone levels drop, which means the vaginal walls thin out and become less elastic, so the muscles may get looser,” Dr. Wider said. “The good news is that the tone of the muscles can be improved by Kegel exercises, no matter the age of the woman."

While there's nothing wrong with strengthening your vaginal muscles, it's also worth considering that the "loose woman, loose vagina" stigma has more to do with ageism and how society shames female sexuality than any medically legitimized vaginal hierarchy. It's safe to say that unless you've given birth to multiple children at a young age, your vagina need not be any tighter than it is naturally.