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Let’s set some things straight right away. There’s a difference between a “tight” vagina and a healthy or toned vagina. And the muscles of the vagina and vaginal canal are, in fact, the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor muscles form a complex muscular system like a hammock that stretches from the abdominal muscles around to attach to the back muscles. And their health or tone comes from their ability to contract and relax equally and responsively. This is vital for preventing urinary or fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, keeping your DIVA Cup in place and more. All of which are important to the health and well being of people with vaginas.
It’s time to reject the misogynistic notion of the “tight” vagina and instead focus on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles to maintain the proper functioning of our bodies—for our benefit.
“Just as the appearance, shape, and size of your vulva and labia are unique to you, so is the shape and size of your vagina. Many women worry that they are too big or too small, too wide or too narrow - ‘tightness’ or ‘looseness’ is all relative.” - Women’s Health Vagina University (2018)
Rejecting the Misogynistic Notion of a “Tight" VaginaThis is a myth, first and foremost. Having a tight vagina does not make you:
- more sexually desirable
- better to have penetrative sex with
- better than others
- someone who has had a lot of penetrative sex
- sexually undesirable
- less than others
Things that do not cause your vagina to become “loose”, include:
- vaginal birth; these muscles are designed to bounce back
- many sexual partners and lots of penetrative sex; again, these muscles are incredibly elastic
- vaginismus; a vaginal condition that causes painful intercourse due to extreme pelvic tightening during penetration, often treated with vaginal dilators and other individualized healthcare
- urinary leakage; tight vaginal/pelvic floor muscles can have a tendency to spasm, causing surprise leaks
- fecal leakage; because the pelvic floor muscles extend up towards the anus, fecal leakage can occur if they are too tight
- when you’re not aroused enough. The vagina will soften, open and produce natural lubrication in preparation for penetration. If you’re not adequately aroused, the vagina can feel too tight for insertion.
- when you’re inserting a tampon or menstrual cup for the first time, and you’re nervous. Nervous tension can tighten the vagina muscles, just like it does to your shoulders, jaw, or hands.
- you’ve done a lot of Kegel exercises, and these muscles have become overworked. This inability to relax can equally lead to issues, such as pain or leaking.
- when your DIVA Cup won’t stay in place and shifts upwards. Tight pelvic floor muscles might mean that your cup slides up higher in the vaginal canal as you wear it, making removal challenging.
- when your DIVA Cup leaks. If these muscles become too tense, they can push in on the sides of the menstrual cup, preventing it from fully opening.
- after multiple childbirths, to help re-train the muscles that have been stretched for vaginal delivery to prevent leaks or organ prolapse. The vaginal opening is designed for childbirth, however after multiple vaginal deliveries the elasticity of these muscles can decrease due to muscle fatigue.
- if you experience incontinence, including exercise or stress-induced leaks, I.e., laughing, sneezing, or jumping, these muscles might need conditioning. Check in with a pelvic floor physiotherapist first.
- during menopause estrogen production declines. This can reduce the elasticity of the pelvic floor muscles. Through pelvic floor training, however, muscular conditioning can be maintained at any age.
- fear of being thought of as impure and therefore not attractive or desirable.
- pressure to get back our pre-pregnancy body. The body is incredible at what it can do, but it also changes, and that’s okay too.
- misinformation about Kegels and a lack of information about muscular relaxation. A patriarchal society fixated on hyper productivity, perfectionism and meeting certain sexual ideals.
- Prevalence of ideas like the “husband (or daddy) stitch”.
- ageism, the idea that the older you get the less sexually desirable you are.
Reclaiming Vaginal StrengthToning your pelvic floor muscles can be incredibly beneficial for your day-to-day functioning, including preventing unexpected bladder leaks, pelvic organ prolapse, or managing your menstrual cycle with a menstrual cup.
It’s time that we reframe these misogynistic expectations of our bodies and reject the ideas that without meeting certain expectations, we are somehow undesirable or less valuable.
Speak to a certified pelvic floor physiotherapist to determine your pelvic floor strength, if you are struggling with any of the above, preparing for a vaginal birth or if you experience pain—as this could be vaginismus, a treatable condition. If not, a healthy routine of physical activity and pelvic floor engagement can keep these muscles as healthy as any other muscle in your body.
These muscles are working involuntarily throughout the day, when you sit, stand, bend over, cough, laugh, sneeze, jump, etc. They are in training 24/7. You might find instead that they require more relaxing, through deep belly breathing and gentle stretching.
Take time to get to know your body; appreciate it for all that it does for you, for the life it brings into the world, and speak with a healthcare professional when you require assistance.
Resources to Dispel Vagina & Sex MythsWomen’s Health Vagina University (2018)
The Vagina Bible (2019)
Your Sexual Health by Dr. Kate White
- “Is It Possible for a Vagina to Be Too Tight?” Healthline, 31 Jan. 2022, www.healthline.com/health/tight-vagina#tips-for-relief. Accessed 6 Mar. 2023.
- Murphy, Carrie. “The Husband Stitch Isn’t Just a Horrifying Childbirth Myth.” Healthline, 24 Jan. 2018, www.healthline.com/health-news/husband-stitch-is-not-just-myth.
- “The Rare Truth about “Tight” and “Loose” Women.” Psychology Today, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-sex/201109/the-rare-truth-about-tight-and-loose-women.
- Tiven, Lucy. “Here Is the Truth about the Taboo of Vagina Tightness.” ATTN:, 5 Mar. 2016, archive.attn.com/stories/6293/truth-behind-vaginal-tightness. Accessed 6 Mar. 2023.