During my freshman year, I remember the day that a boy heckled a classmate for having a loose vagina. This article will deconstruct the loose vagina myth and talk about the reasons your vagina may change, how to tone the vaginal muscles, and when to seek help from a professional.
What’s in this article?
Your vagina is a tube-like canal located directly below the urethra and above the anus. “Loose” refers to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.
These muscles support the reproductive organs like the bladder, uterus, and intestines. When these muscles weaken, the pelvic organs may drop into the vagina, causing discomfort with intercourse and urinary problems.
Women are not the only ones who may experience changes. Men have pelvic floor muscles, as well. Men also experience weakening of the pelvic floor as they age, which can lead to urinary and stool incontinence issues.
A lot of women may worry about changes to their hymen the first time that they have intercourse. The hymen is a thin, stretchy membrane located at the bottom portion of the vagina.
It has no biological purpose and is merely leftover from when you were developing in the womb. It can partially cover the opening, or rarely block the entire opening. Like vulvas, hymens are all different shapes and sizes.
An intact hymen covering the entire vaginal opening will look like a thin disc or donut-shaped ring around the vagina. This is also known as the hymenal ring.
If the hymen only partially covers the vaginal opening, it may look like a crescent moon. Hymens can have no perforations or many, skin tags, ridges, or notches.
Just because your hymen tore does not mean that you have a loose vagina. Virginity is a social construct, and “losing your virginity” has nothing to do with the hymen. The hymen’s presence means nothing.
There are myths that if your hymen is missing, you’ve had sexual intercourse. That’s not true. Some females are born without one.
Occasionally, an infant’s thick membrane ruptures within a few days of birth. Other hymens tear during gymnastics or horseback riding. When the hymen tears, it may bleed, or it may not.
Your hymen should not cause you pain. As long as your hymen does not interfere with blood escaping your body during menses, it is healthy. If you have concerns related to your hymen, speak with your healthcare provider.
No, it will not. Masturbation with a sex toy will not affect the size of your vagina. If you are using a toy for masturbation, it should always be clean and nonporous to keep your vagina safe. However, even an enormous sex toy will not loosen a vagina.
While the loose vagina myth continues to exist, your vagina doesn’t change size if you have a lot of sex. Vaginas can stretch to accommodate a finger, sex toy, or penis.
Beyond that, the size also won’t matter — even a giant penis won’t expand your vagina walls for long. Your body was created to have a lot of sex. Thankfully, the vagina is elastic and will go back to its normal size.
In fact, a tight vagina during intercourse may indicate a lack of arousal, which is a big problem. Sexual arousal increases blood flow and natural lubrication.
When your body doesn’t secrete lubrication, the vaginal walls may feel uncomfortable and dry. Consider using water-based lube if you have concerns.
Just like a penis, your vagina will stretch to fit a tampon. Interestingly, tampon size does not correlate with the size of your vaginal canal. Not all periods are created equal. The designations known as Light (L), Regular (R), Super (S), Super Plus (S+), and Ultra are related to flow.
As your menstrual cycle waxes and wanes, you may need to use different tampon types depending on the day (or even the hour in some cases). You can determine the type of absorbency that you need by looking at the amount of white space on your tampon after removal.
A menstrual cup is inserted in the vagina to collect period blood. Once you’ve given birth, you may need to use a different size of a menstrual cup because of changes to your cervix, menstrual flow, and pelvic floor.
There are some concerns that misusing a menstrual cup may cause pelvic floor prolapse. Make sure to avoid bearing down to remove it or bring it lower in the vagina.
Women shouldn’t have to worry about the “looseness” of their vagina. Many factors can affect pelvic floor muscles over the years, like:
Pregnancy changes things in your vagina, starting with your cervix. The position may be lower, and it will usually be partially open. Following the hormone changes and increased stress of your baby on your pelvic floor during pregnancy, you may experience some weakness.
Many women think that a cesarean section will bypass any pelvic floor issues, but pregnancy contributes to vaginal changes nearly as much as a vaginal delivery does.
Many women fear that childbirth will change things “down there” permanently. However, even following a vaginal delivery, the effect is small. Perineal lacerations, also known as vaginal tears, may cause changes to your tissue.
Aging has a reverse effect on the vagina. It often causes atrophy — this means that the vaginal walls become thin, dry, and inflamed. This condition happens due to the decreased estrogen that occurs following menopause. Menopause may also cause a shift in vaginal pH by becoming less acidic.
With the vaginal tissue changes in menopause, many women may describe vaginal dryness, tightness, or irritation. While this may “shrink” your vagina, it can often result in painful intercourse and urinary symptoms.
Weight gain increases the pressure on one’s pelvic floor. With the stress of too much weight, the pelvic floor stretching may cause mild weakness to occur. This weight gain particularly affects the pelvic floor during pregnancy.
Absolutely! While there is no way to “shrink” the vagina, you actually can exercise the muscles. Toning the pelvic floor muscles can decrease urinary symptoms and improve sexual function. Who doesn’t want to have better sex?
The exercises used to tone your pelvic floor are called Kegel exercises. Finding your pelvic floor muscles can be challenging. Wash your hands and then place a single clean finger inside your vagina. Tighten the vaginal muscles around your finger and see if you can feel it.
Once you’ve identified the muscles, you should begin to perform Kegel exercises.
By learning how to perform Kegel exercises correctly, you can strengthen your pelvic floor in the privacy of your own home. Eventually, as you get good at this, you can do it anywhere. I do it at red lights!
Kegels work differently for everyone. Many notice an improvement fairly quickly, while others take time. If you struggle to identify your pelvic floor muscles or don’t see a difference in symptoms after three months, contact your healthcare provider.
Pelvic floor physical therapy and biofeedback training can better target your muscles.
Vaginas are essentially self-cleaning ovens. Avoid any vaginal douches or perfumed cleansers that promise to “tighten” your vagina. These products work by changing your vaginal pH and decreasing your natural lubrication.
While the amount of friction left behind may feel better for your partner, it can cause you infections and pain.
Recently, there have been practices where ground-up wasp nests are being used for vaginal rejuvenation. Do not ever place wasp nests in your vagina.
There is no miracle cure. Just like lifting weights, you will need to exercise to increase the tone of your vagina.
If you have concerns related to any of the following, you should seek a professional gynecological consultation:
Back when I listened to those cruel teenage boys, I honestly didn’t know any better. I quietly tried to understand what could make a vagina “loose.” Through college and my career in women’s health, I have heard women worry about the “looseness” of their vagina.
Vaginas come in all shapes and sizes and are perfect the way they are. Let’s destroy the myth of the “loose vagina.” Empower yourself, so you never have to feel shame again.