Reasons for vaginal tightness or looseness – focus on the pelvic floor

woman on bed looking away

The female anatomy is beautifully designed, yet not commonly discussed. When our vaginas feel unusually or painfully tight, or loose and inelastic, there are often simple and explainable reasons. The muscles that we sense as tight or loose are what doctors refer to as the “pelvic floor muscles” and what may create pelvic floor dysfunction. Yet, women don’t always use this language in day-to-day conversation or when encountering a sense of vaginal tightness or looseness.

What are Pelvic Floor Muscles?

The pelvic floor is a set of very elastic muscles at the base of the pelvis. For a woman, it supports her bladder, bowel, and uterus. Each of those organs has their own passageway through the pelvic floor to allow normal elimination and sexual function. The passageways are the urethra, anus, and vagina respectively. One job of the pelvic floor muscles is to keep those passageways closed unless you subconsciously or consciously tell them to open, say to urinate, to defecate, or to engage in penetrative intercourse (sex).

In some cases, the pelvic floor muscles can weaken, reducing the feeling of tightness or snugness, which is important in penetrative sex.

In other cases, the pelvic floor muscles don’t relax when they’re supposed to. During sex, the pelvic floor muscle should expand to allow the vagina to expand. When it doesn’t, the sensation of an “overly tight or small vagina” may result. Sometimes the tightening is triggered during the insertion itself – a sensation that is involuntary and prevents comfortable penetration.

Vaginal Atrophy Symptoms

The pelvic floor is a set of very elastic muscles at the base of the pelvis. For a woman, it supports her bladder, bowel, and uterus. Each of those organs has its own passageway through the pelvic floor to allow normal elimination and sexual function. The passageways are the urethra, anus, and vagina respectively. One job of the pelvic floor muscles is to keep those passageways closed unless you subconsciously or consciously tell them to open, say to urinate, to defecate, or to engage in penetrative intercourse (sex).

In some cases, the pelvic floor muscles can weaken, reducing the feeling of tightness or snugness, which is important in penetrative sex.

In other cases, the pelvic floor muscles don’t relax when they’re supposed to. During sex, the pelvic floor muscle should expand to allow the vagina to expand. When it doesn’t, the sensation of an “overly tight or small vagina” may result. Sometimes the tightening is triggered during the insertion itself – a sensation that is involuntary and prevents comfortable penetration.

Can a Vagina Be Too Tight or Too Loose?

Tight or loose vaginas are matters of perspective. Vaginas are roughly the same size in each woman, but during sex they grow longer and wider.

The sensation of tight vaginal muscles is a reflection of how tightly the pelvic floor muscles are gripping and surrounding the vagina. Excessive feelings of tightness or spasms in those muscles can prevent penetration, even with proper lubrication and stimulation. And, conversely, a loose or weak vagina can be an indication of weak pelvic floor muscles due to a variety of health conditions. In both cases, talking with your doctor or a pelvic health specialist is best.

Causes of Vaginal Tightness

Vaginismus– Vaginismus covers a range of issues that can make the vagina feel like it’s blocked. This kind of involuntary tightening or spasming can have physical or emotional triggers – and often a combination of the two.

Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) – GSM is a set of symptoms in postmenopausal women that includes vaginal inelasticity, dryness, and irritation – all of which can cause pain during penetration. Menopause can also change the shape of the vagina – making it shorter or narrower and, yes, tighter. GSM also includes vaginal atrophy which, along with thinning the walls of the vaginal canal, can also cause shortening and tightening. 

Relaxing Your Vaginal Muscles

Experts recommend the following strategies to relax vaginal muscles:

  1. Gentle pelvic floor stretching with specific yoga poses.
  2. Pelvic floor muscle therapy performed by a therapist who specializes in techniques to relax the pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Vaginal dilators, also known as vaginal trainers, to gently stretch and loosen the vagina and relax vaginal muscles.
  4. Vaginal dilation therapy utilizing vaginal dilators/vaginal trainers frequently and with set goals established either individually or with a healthcare professional. 

Causes of Vaginal Weakness

Childbirth is a primary cause of the sensation of vaginal weakness or looseness. Many months of major pressure and a few hours of intense stretching take their toll. It’s only natural that it takes some time for the pelvic muscle to recover.

Vaginal looseness is also a common concern for post-menopausal women. This is due to a general loss of muscle tone in people this age and the fact that due to estrogen reduction, vaginal tissues are getting thinner, which changes the sensations you’re used to feeling during penetration.

The symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include reduced vaginal sensation, urgent or more frequent urination and defecation, and more frequent occurrences of passing gas or urine unexpectedly. 

How to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

General exercise can help maintain muscle tone throughout your body, including your pelvic floor muscles.

If you want to specifically target the pelvic floor region, Kegel exercises can help. As often as five to ten times a day, clench your pelvic floor muscles five or more times – as if you’ve trying to prevent urination. In fact, you can do Kegels while you’re urinating or even with an expandable vaginal trainer inserted. If considering Kegels, be sure to speak with a medical or healthcare professional on the most up to date recommendations for indications and the current best practices.

So, whether you need to “loosen up down there” or “tighten up” your vagina, think about your pelvic floor muscles during this process. Also, with the growing network of healthcare professionals in pelvic health, it’s always best to talk with a resource you trust to help outline the right next steps for you and identify the top reasons your vagina is feeling too tight or too loose.

Connect with our pelvic health community by visiting Milli’s Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/milliforher/.

Information in this blog is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace medical diagnosis or advice from a health care professional. Patients are encouraged to seek a medical appointment for their evaluation of pelvic pain.