A woman's vagina is a sex organ as well as part of the birth canal. Just as women can have different sized breasts, hands, and feet, the size and depth of vaginas can also vary.
According to one study, the average depth of a vagina is about 3.77 inches, which is 9.6 centimeters (cm). Other sources suggest that the average range of size may be about 3 to 7 inches (approximately 7.6–17.7 cm)
However, these variations in size are not usually apparent, even to a sexual partner.
A report in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology said that the average depth of the vagina is about 3.77 inches (9.6 cm), but that vaginal depth and appearance can vary widely.
In fact, the depth of the vagina (from the opening to the tip of the cervix) can measure anywhere up to 7 inches (17.7 cm).
The vagina is the canal to the cervix, which separates the uterus and the vagina.
Several types of tissue line the inside of the vagina, including the mucosa. The mucosa is made up of specialized cells that secrete a lubricating fluid, which helps the vaginal walls to stretch.
The exterior portion of the female genitals is the vulva. The vulva includes the labia minora and majora — the lip-like parts of the female genitals.
The appearance of vulvas varies widely. The skin may be the same color or darker than the rest of the body. The labia majora, which are the external "lips," can vary from around 2.7 to 4.7 inches (7 to 12 cm) in length.
The clitoris ranges from about 0.1 to 1.3 inches (5 to 35 mm) in size but swells and enlarges if a woman is aroused.
The vagina's size and depth changes in certain situations. It can stretch to accommodate the insertion of a tampon, a finger, or a penis.
During arousal, more blood flows to the vagina. This causes the vagina to elongate and the cervix, or tip of the uterus, to lift up slightly, allowing more of a penis, finger, or sex toy to fit in the vagina.
While a vagina expands during arousal, a large penis or sex toy can still cause discomfort when having sex.
The vagina will not change in appearance, as it is internal. In fact, research has found no link between the depth of a person's vagina and their age.
The genitals may also appear to change color, becoming lighter or darker with hormonal changes over time.
Some women may find that their vagina feels different following childbirth. While the tissues in the vagina do stretch to accommodate a baby, this is not permanent.
Research has found no difference in vaginal length between women who had given birth and those who had not.
If a person thinks their vagina feels different after childbirth, a doctor may recommend Kegel exercises, which involve squeezing and releasing the muscles used to control urination to help strengthen the pelvic floor.
The average erect penis is about 33 percent longer than the average vagina. While both penis and vagina sizes can vary, these organs can usually accommodate each other.
A 2015 study found the average erect penis length to be just over 5 inches (13.12 cm). Some women may report discomfort if their sexual partner has a penis that is larger than average.
It may be painful or uncomfortable if an object such as a penis or sex toy hits the cervix. Having adequate lubrication and communicating any discomfort to a partner can help keep sexual activity pleasurable.
Tips for keeping the vagina healthy include:
- avoiding douching or using highly fragranced bath products, tampons, or feminine hygiene sprays
- changing out of wet clothing and swimsuits as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of infection
- changing pads and tampons frequently
- using protection during sexual activity
- refraining from wearing clothing that is too tight, which can contribute to irritation and excess sweat
- urinating after sex to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs)
The depth and appearance of vaginas vary greatly between individuals. Usually, the depth of the vagina is between 3 and 7 inches.
The vagina is an organ that is designed to accommodate both childbirth and sexual activity. However, if a woman is experiencing pain during sex due to what she perceives as a shallow vagina, she should talk to her doctor.
Doctors can investigate any underlying causes for the pain, and may refer someone to a specialist. A specialist may recommend pelvic floor therapy or sex therapy, which can make sex more pleasurable regardless of vaginal depth.