The muscles that support your vagina are some of the most mythologized and poorly understood muscles in the body. To show you what I mean, think about the muscles in your arms or legs.
Maybe you’ve been committing yourself to exercise in the pandemic and those muscles are currently very strong; maybe you’ve been focusing your energies elsewhere and they’re not quite as strong as they used to be. (No judgment!)
You know that these are not permanent changes to your body--there are exercises you can do to strengthen your arm or leg muscles if you want to. It’s the same with a vagina!
There are no people out there with naturally loose or naturally tight vaginas. It is an elastic muscle that can be tight or loose for a number of different reasons, physical or mental.
Loose Vagina and Number of Partners
First, let’s make one thing clear: your vaginal tightness has nothing to do with how many people you’ve slept with.This is a myth rooted in misogynistic ideas that suggest a woman is most desirable when she has been with only a few partners, whereas a man is most desirable when he has been with many women.
(These are also hetero- and cis-normative ideas about sex which harm the LGBTQ+ community in other ways.) Bottom line: The number of partners you’ve been with says nothing about your vagina nor your self-worth, and these theories should be rejected wherever they appear.
Loose Vagina: Does It Matter?
When people refer to “loose vaginas”, they’re often really referring to weak pelvic floor muscles. Having a weak pelvic floor has a number of health implications, including:
The idea that sex is only enjoyable if a woman’s vagina is “tight” is very overblown. Any partner that respects your body is not going to care whether your vagina is a little tighter or looser than normal.
That said, for your own sake, a little bit of vaginal tightening can make your vagina more sensitive and make penetrative sex a little more enjoyable.
One of the most common implications of weak pelvic floor muscles is an overactive bladder.A healthy urination schedule is about 6-8 times in one day, including 1-2 times per night (Cleveland Clinic, 2019).
If you are peeing a lot more often than that, have noticed a sudden increase in how often you pee, often don’t release all of your urine when you pee, or are having involuntary loss of urine (including when you sneeze, cough, or laugh), you may need to work on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
Lower Back Pain
Research into the connection between pelvic floor strength and lower back pain is still emerging. There was a small study done in 2010 that showed a connection between non-pregnant women who reported lower back pain and those who showed evidence on an ultrasound of pelvic floor muscle weakness (Arab et al).
Another study from 2013 looked at exercises for back pain that both did and did not include pelvic floor muscle training and found the addition of pelvic floor muscle training was more relieving to the patients’ pain than normal exercises alone (Bi et al).
Your pelvic floor muscles hold up all of the organs in your pelvis. In rare cases, weak pelvic floor muscles can cause those organs to prolapse.
Real Causes of a Loose Vagina
We know what a loose vagina does and doesn’t mean, but how might your vagina become “loose” (or in other words, how did your pelvic floor muscles become weak?)
While a 20–24-year-old person with a vagina might have a 10% chance of having urinary incontinence (highly correlated with a weak pelvic floor), those above the age of 80 have a 35% chance of incontinence (Jundt, Peschers, & Kentenich, 2015).
When your vagina stretches to accommodate the birth of a child, it will normally feel loose for a few days afterward. You might experience extra symptoms of urinary incontinence during this time, but don’t worry--the vagina has a natural elasticity that will usually return it to its normal state (though you may have to do a few exercises to help it along).
After delivering multiple children, the vagina’s elasticity breaks down a bit, and so each subsequent delivery canmake your vagina a little looser. However, there are still exercises you can do to combat or reverse this problem, so don’t worry!
Mental Health Conditions
While there is still not much research on how emotional conditions like anxiety and depression coincide with urinary incontinence, studies do show a correlation (Coyne et al, 2011). We also know that vaginismus (mentioned above as a condition where the vagina is too tight and penetration is painful) has a strong connection to psychological health.
Natural Remedies for Loose Vagina
If your main symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction is an overactive bladder, you might want to read our article herefor more details. However, if you are having one or more symptoms of poor pelvic floor strength (including a vagina that doesn’t feel as tight as you’d like), or if you’re at risk for weak pelvic floor because of your age, conditions, or pregnancies, you might try doing some pelvic floor exercises.
The most common kind of pelvic floor exercise is a Kegel. It’s a great, low-risk exercise that can be performed anytime throughout your day. To do a Kegel, simply:
- Clench the muscles in your vagina as though you’re trying to hold in urine.
- Hold for 3-5 seconds and then release. (Releasing is important; holding the vaginal muscles for too long isn’t good for them!)
- Repeat this up to 10 times in one session and for up to three sessions a day.
Like any exercise, be sure to listen to your vaginal muscles and try not to overwork them. However, if you’d like to give them a bit moreof a workout, you might also try incorporating vaginal weights into your normal Kegel routine!
Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgery (Vaginoplasty)
In extreme cases, or in an attempt to make themselves feel more comfortable with their vaginas, some people elect to undergo vaginal rejuvenation surgery. One such vaginal rejuvenation surgery is a vaginoplasty, which tightens the walls of your vagina.
This is not a decision to be undertaken lightly; you should seriously discuss the risks, implications, and your need with your doctor and a mental health professional before seeking the advice of a surgeon.
Let’s revisit some of the most important takeaways from this article:
- Your vagina’s tightness or looseness has nothing to do with how many people you’ve slept with.
- Unless you are experiencing real symptoms of pelvic floor weakness (like incontinence and lower back pain), your vaginal tightness is probably not something you need to worry about. In fact, if your vagina is very tight, you may need to relax more and go a little slower to be sure you’re ready for penetrative intercourse.
- Age, childbirth, and mental conditions like anxiety or depression are three risk factors for a vagina “loosening”--though you can still work against this by performing kegel exercises with or without the assistance of weights.
- As a last resort, you can also consider a vaginoplasty in order to tighten up your vagina--but you probably don’t need to.
Please feel free to talk to your doctor or gynecologist about any suspected issues you are having with pelvic floor weakness or vaginal tightness.
- Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic (2019). What Your Bladder Is Trying to Tell You About Your Health. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-your-bladder-is-trying-to-tell-you-about-your-health-2/
- Lamont, J. A. (1978). Vaginismus. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 131(6), 632-636. https://doi.org/10.1016/0002-9378(78)90822-0
- Arab, A. M., Behbahani, R. B., Lorestani, L., & Azari, A. (2010). Assessment of pelvic floor muscle function in women with and without low back pain using transabdominal ultrasound. Manual therapy, 15(3), 235-239. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.math.2009.12.005
- Bi, X., Zhao, J., Zhao, L., Liu, Z., Zhang, J., Sun, D., Song, L., & Xia, Y. (2013). Pelvic floor muscle exercise for chronic low back pain. Journal of International Medical Research, 146–152. https://doi.org/10.1177/0300060513475383
- Jundt, K., Peschers, U., & Kentenich, H. (2015). The investigation and treatment of female pelvic floor dysfunction. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 112(33-34), 564–574. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2015.0564
- Coyne, K. S., Sexton, C. C., Kopp, Z. S., Ebel‐Bitoun, C., Milsom, I., & Chapple, C. (2011). The impact of overactive bladder on mental health, work productivity and health‐related quality of life in the UK and Sweden: results from EpiLUTS. BJU international, 108(9), 1459-1471. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21371240/