The vagina is a flexible organ that can undergo many types of stretching over a lifetime, from tampon or vibrator insertion, to pelvic examination or intercourse, to childbirth. But after any stretching, it’s designed to go back to its original size.
Sexual arousal starts a certain degree of “loosening.” When a woman is aroused, her vagina prepares for penetration by relaxing and lubricating, allowing it to be ready for penetration.
Still, sometimes women feel their vagina is too “tight,” especially after a long period without sexual penetration, making intercourse uncomfortable. Reasons may include the following:
- Anxiety. A woman may feel anxious about her physical condition/medical illness or relationship or may be nervous about having sex again, especially if she has a new partner. This anxiety can make it difficult for her – and her vagina – to relax.
- Poorlubrication. Sufficient vaginal lubrication is critical for comfortable penetrative intercourse. Anxiety can contribute to poor lubrication. So can menopause. Medications can also impact vaginal lubrication. The hormone estrogen helps keep the vagina moist, stretchable, and elastic. When estrogen levels drop at menopause, vulvar and vaginal atrophy can occur. Vaginal cells change, making the vagina dry, frail, and inelastic. Sometimes, the vagina becomes shorter and narrower, especially if the woman does not have sex regularly.
What can women do if they feel their vagina is too tight?
- Have more foreplay. It takes time, sometimes thirty minutes or more, for a woman’s vagina to get ready for penetrative sex. Couples should take their time and enjoy lots of kissing, touching, and other arousing activities before penetration.
- Communicate. A woman’s partner might not realize that her body isn’t ready for penetration, so she should be clear about it. Communication may also mean working through any problems the couple may have. It can be hard for women to relax and enjoy sex when there is an unresolved argument, lack or trust, or stress on the relationship. Some couples seek help from a sex therapist or counselor to resolve their problems and learn how to communicate more effectively.
- Use a vaginal lubricant.Over-the-counter lubricants can be purchased at most pharmacies, supermarkets, and department stores. They may be oil-, silicone-, or water-based. Keep in mind that not all lubricants can be used with latex condoms and they contain a variety of different ingredients, some of which may be irritating.
Women who are concerned about a tight vagina should see their health care provider, internist, women’s health care professional, or gynecologist.