The pelvic floor muscles surround the vagina. These may weaken over time, which can cause a feeling of loosening in the vagina.

After childbirth or as a person grows older, the muscles around the vagina may weaken. However, this is not always permanent because the elastic muscles of the vagina can stretch and return to their usual shape.

Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to problems such as incontinence, causing urine to leak from the body. Pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen the muscles of the vagina.

This article separates myth from fact and explains how to strengthen the pelvic floor.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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During sexual arousal, the vagina becomes moist, and its muscles relax, which enables penetrative sex.

However, these muscles relax slowly, which is why foreplay can be very important before sex. After sex, the vagina returns to its usual shape and tension.

There are many myths about the effect of penetrative sex on the female body. According to Planned Parenthood, there is no evidence that sex causes a loosening of the vagina over time.

The vagina is temporarily more open before, during, and after sex. This is similar to the mouth stretching to yawn or eat, then returning to its usual shape.

The hymen is a thin membrane around the vagina. Having penetrative sex for the first time can stretch the hymen slightly, which may make the vagina feel slightly more open.

No two bodies are the same, and sex with a new partner may feel very different. Bodies also change with age, weight loss or gain, and illness.

Trying a different sexual position can sometimes change how tight or loose the vagina feels. This may improve sexual satisfaction for both partners.

Learn more vaginal tightness and dryness.

The body undergoes many changes during pregnancy and after delivery. These can include:

During a vaginal delivery, the muscles of the vagina stretch. This stretched shape reduces slowly. After childbirth, the vaginal muscles are unlikely to feel the same as before, and it may take time to adjust to this feeling.

Some females report changes in vaginal shape or elasticity after giving birth. Sometimes, a female may feel less sensation or satisfaction during sex, but these feelings usually return in time.

Damage to skin, tissue, or muscle during childbirth can also cause changes to the vulva and vagina. This can make a difference in how loose or tight the vagina feels.

More research into female sexual health after childbirth will help medical professionals offer more support and advice.

Learn more about vaginal changes after childbirth.

The body changes as it ages. Skin and muscle gradually become less firm and strong, which helps explain why the vagina can start to feel looser.

During menopause, levels of the hormone estrogen drop. This can cause the vaginal lining to become drier and less elastic.

The vagina can become narrower or shorter after menopause. Also, there may be discomfort, possibly caused by a reduction in natural lubrication, during sex.

Regularly having sex during menopause can help keep the tissue in the vagina thick. Using a lubricant can make sex more comfortable.

During perimenopause and menopause, it is not uncommon for the lining of the vaginal wall to change. Also, sex may feel different, and the vagina may become drier. Discuss this with a doctor to determine whether hormonal cream may help.

Learn more about sex and aging.

The pelvic floor muscles surround the vagina. These keep the vagina, womb, bladder, and rectum in place. As these muscles loosen, the vagina can feel less tight.

There are exercises that can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises can make a difference in how the vagina feels and improve overall health.

Strong pelvic floor muscles can help prevent incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when organs slip out of place.

Learn about vaginal prolapse.

Pelvic floor exercises

Kegel exercises are the most common type of pelvic floor exercise. They are discreet and straightforward to do using the following steps:

  1. Find the right muscles: When urinating, try to stop the flow of urine. These muscles are the pelvic floor muscles. However, regularly doing Kegels while peeing can be bad for bladder health.
  2. Choose a time: Pick a quiet moment to relax and concentrate on gently squeezing the pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Hold: Once contracting these muscles feels natural, squeeze and hold the position. Gradually, try to hold the squeeze for 2 to 3 seconds.
  4. Release: After holding the contraction, relax the muscles completely.
  5. Build: Build up to repeating this exercise 10 times in a row, five times a day.

Try to keep the rest of the body relaxed. Do not contract other muscles, such as those in the stomach or buttocks. Breathe as usual while doing Kegels.

As with all exercise, building strength can take time, and it may take up to 6 months to notice a difference.

Some mobile apps can help track pelvic floor exercises. Also, there are some devices that a person can insert into the vagina to aid in these exercises. Only use devices designed for this purpose. Some of these devices also track muscle strength.

Learn more about how to do pelvic floor exercises.

Other treatment options

A doctor may suggest using electrical stimulation to contract the pelvic floor muscles. This involves inserting a sensor into the vagina. The sensor gives out a small electrical current that contracts the muscles to strengthen them.

Surgery is an option, but doctors usually only recommend it after pelvic organ prolapse. A surgical procedure can return the bladder, vagina, and rectum to their original positions in the body.

There is no scientific evidence that medication, including creams, can tighten the vagina.

Learn more about treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction.

What should a female do immediately after sex?

After sex, a female should consider doing the following:

  • Urinate: Flush out bacteria to prevent UTIs.
  • Clean up: Gently wash the genital area with warm water.
  • Hydrate: Drink water to stay hydrated.
  • Check contraceptives: Ensure there are no issues with barrier methods or birth control.
  • Address discomfort: Monitor and address any pain or unusual symptoms.
  • Communicate: Share feelings with their partner.
  • Consider emergency contraception: If needed, take it as soon as possible.
  • Rest: Allow their body to recover.

Learn more about cleaning after sex.

After childbirth or during aging, the vagina may change. Despite certain myths, sex does not have a lasting effect on vaginal tightness.

Traditionally, less research has focused on female health issues. More concentrated surveys and studies would provide a better understanding of concerns and experiences after childbirth and during aging. This could also lead to improved therapies.