At times, a woman may notice her vagina feels tighter than usual. This is because the vagina changes over the course of a woman’s life as a result of aging and natural events, such as pregnancy and childbirth.
Sometimes, these changes may cause a vagina to feel tighter than normal. As a result, some women may think their vagina is too tight, particularly if they experience discomfort or pain during sexual penetration. This belief is misplaced.
A woman’s vagina is almost never too tight to have sex. The pain or discomfort is a symptom of other issues. In its unaroused state, the vagina is between 3 and 4 inches long and may not produce enough lubrication for comfortable intercourse.
However, when aroused, the vagina expands in width and length and releases lubrication. A woman can address pain, discomfort, or a feeling of being too tight by spending more time gaining arousal before penetration and using a lubricant if needed.
Some of the other common causes of discomfort include:
- congenital conditions
- hormonal fluctuations
Vaginal tightness caused by any of the above can be treated or managed with help from a medical professional.
The vagina undergoes many changes during a woman’s lifetime. The following occurrences directly impact the vagina:
- hormonal-related changes
- childbirth and breast-feeding
Hormonal related changes
A woman’s vagina changes naturally due to hormonal fluctuations throughout her life. These changes include her monthly menstrual cycles and then the loss of those cycles as she reaches menopause.
When a woman is in her childbearing years, her hormones will fluctuate at different points in her cycle. As a woman begins the first day of her period, hormone levels of estrogen and progesterone are low.
As the cycle progress, she moves closer towards ovulation and hormone levels rise. The increased levels of estrogen and progesterone may make the vagina feel more lubricated and elastic during this time. After ovulation, hormones drop again, and the vagina may feel less flexible and drier, leading to a perception of tightness.
During menopause, estrogen levels drop and vaginal tissue thins. These changes may affect the way a woman’s vagina feels to her, leading her to believe that her vagina is too tight.
Pregnancy can lead to many changes in a woman’s vagina. The vagina changes to prepare for the birth of the baby and as a result of an enlarged uterus, which puts extra pressure on the vagina.
Changes in a woman’s vagina during pregnancy include:
- change in color
- feelings of fullness or pressure
- increased discharge and lubrication
The feeling of vaginal fullness and pressure during pregnancy can make a woman feel as if her vagina is tighter than normal. However, the increase in vaginal lubrication caused by pregnancy may also make a woman’s vagina feel more elastic than usual.
A woman’s vagina will regain its natural elasticity after the pregnancy.
Childbirth and breast-feeding
During childbirth, the vagina dilates, which means it will grow and expand to accommodate the delivery of a baby. Sometime after birth, the vagina contracts to its normal size.
It is very common for a woman to experience changes to her vagina following a vaginal birth. Some women may experience injury via tearing or episiotomy to their vagina. While these injuries heal, the vagina may feel tighter or more tender than before.
Also, women who are breast-feeding may experience vaginal dryness due to changes in hormones. This dryness can cause a feeling of vaginal tightness during intercourse.
When a woman becomes aroused, her vagina expands and lengthens and releases a natural lubricant. All these changes help the woman’s vagina prepare for penetration.
If not sufficiently aroused, the vagina may not expand or be lubricated enough, which can cause discomfort, pain, and a general feeling of being too tight. Some women achieve arousal through a prolonged build up or foreplay with their partner. Other women practice relaxation rituals, such as taking a bath before intercourse.
However, research has shown that almost all women can benefit from additional lubrication. There is a range of lubricants available that can help make sex more pleasurable. Choose a water-soluble lubricant if using condoms as other oils can break down the condom.
Some women fear that following the vaginal birth of a child, their vagina will never return to a pre-birth tightness. While the vagina does change some during pregnancy and childbirth, it returns more or less to a similar size and shape as it was before the pregnancy.
After having a baby, a woman may want to strengthen her pelvic floor. This increased strength may help a woman prevent urinary leaks and improve comfort during sex but will not change the shape or elasticity of the vagina itself.
How to do Kegel exercises
The most common exercise for the pelvic floor is called a Kegel exercise. To perform a Kegel, tighten the same muscles that can stop the flow of urine midstream. Hold the muscles for a set length of time before releasing and then repeat.
A woman should perform Kegel exercises throughout the day. Doing this daily will help a woman improve or maintain her pelvic floor strength.
Does menopause affect vaginal looseness?
Women going through menopause may also worry about vaginal looseness due to the vaginal tissues becoming thinner during menopause. This change may produce a sensation that a woman is losing elasticity and tightness. However, although the vaginal tissues change during menopause, the vagina does not loosen.
While some situations may cause a temporary loss of elasticity or swelling, the vagina recovers and regains a normal level of tightness. Many women experience feelings of vaginal tightness due to lack of arousal before intercourse or hormonal changes due to childbirth, breast-feeding, and menopause.
Permanent loss of vaginal tightness is also a myth. Though a vagina will expand during sex and childbirth, it will always return to its natural state post activity. When a woman gives birth, it may take more time for the vagina to recover and regain its normal amount of elasticity, however.
It is essential that a woman see her doctor if she experiences any symptoms of infection or sudden changes in how her vagina feels.