How to Loosen a Tight Vagina

How to Loosen a Tight Vagina

How to loosen a tight vagina – a complex question with many answers. Vaginal tightness is experienced by many women yet not in the same way.  For some, it is a ‘feeling of tightness’ yet a medical examination will be normal, while for others it would present with actual physical limitations that can be substantiated by an examination.  If you feel your vagina is too tight to insert a tampon or penis, or you have immense vaginal pain during penetration, read on. In this essay, we will discuss the common reasons and available solutions.

What Causes a Tight Vagina?

There are several reasons why your vagina may be experiencing involuntary tightening. A vagina with tightness can be structural or non-structural (perceived), and fall into four categories: physical causes, medical causes, environmental causes, and psychological causes.

Physical Causes of a Tight Vagina

  • Genetics: some women will naturally have a tighter vaginal tissue;
  • Pelvic floor hypertonicity: constantly contracting pelvic muscles will present as vaginal tightness;
  • Episiotomy: on occasion, episiotomy will be sutured too tight or will naturally heal in a tight fashion, causing vaginal & vaginal entry tightness;
  • Surgery: some gynecologic surgeries may affect the structure and elasticity of the vagina resulting in a vagina that is too tight.
  • Childbirth: the stretching and tearing of the vaginal tissues during labor can result in trauma to the muscles and ligaments in the pelvic floor, leading to a decrease in elasticity and tone.

Underlying Medical Causes

  • Menopause: the reduced estrogen levels during menopause can lead to vaginal dryness and tightness. Read more here.
  • Breast & gynecologic cancer treatment: estrogen-suppression medications, chemotherapy, or oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) will trigger a sudden onset of menopausal tight vagina;
  • Gynecologic cancer radiation: pelvic radiation may cause tissue scarring and restrictions;
  • Endometriosis: prescribed estrogen suppression medication may cause vaginal dryness and tightness;
  • Genital and vaginal infections: prescribed antibiotics and other medications may cause temporary dryness and tightness;
  • Inflammatory conditions, such as Lichen Sclerosus, may adhese the genital tissue and cause vaginal entry restrictions.

Psychological Causes

The following are extremely common causes for tightness because the genitals are connected to the stress response system, also known as the Fight-or-Flight reaction.  Just like the mouth gets dry when anxious, so would the vagina!

Environmental Causes

  • Dry, stiff vagina after immersing in treated or salty water, such as whirlpool, jacuzzi, ocean, Mikvah;
  • Chafed, tight vagina when using hot water on genitals while bathing;
  • Prolonged penetrative sex beyond vaginal comfort;
  • Scented or salt products in bath water;
  • Excessive genital/vaginal hygiene;
  • Dehydration: insufficient drinking, dry heat in the winter, etc.

Medical Causes of Vaginal Tightness

Several medical conditions may cause involuntary tightness, inhibit natural lubrication, and cause a woman to experience pain during sexual activity. Your vagina may feel incurable, but there are ways to loosen things up like following pelvic floor physical therapy, dilator therapy, and more. Being informed about your sexual health is the first way to address painful sex and involuntary tightening.

Vaginismus

Vaginismus is the most typical anxiety-based vaginal tightness, making vaginal penetrations difficult or altogether impossible.  Vaginismus is always a symptom of an underlying anxiety, never a standalone condition.

The vaginal penetrations involved include finger, applicator, menstrual insertables (tampon, disk, cup), gynecologic examinations, vaginal ultrasound, and penetrative sex.  While some women may be able to have some of the penetrations with or without pain, sexual intercourse will always be either problematic or impossible.

There is no reason to live with vaginismus — it is curable with the right intervention!

Learn more about vaginismus here and watch our videos here.

Dyspareunia

Dyspareunia, or painful intercourse, has different causes (read more here) with anxiety always playing a role: what woman would want painful vaginal penetration?  By anticipating pain, the vaginal muscles will automatically tighten up and the vagina perceived as tight and restricted. The lack of a lubricant doesn’t help either.

Learn more about dyspareunia here and seek help – it is curable once the underlying cause is identified and addressed.

Vaginal Atrophy

As women age, their estrogen levels decrease, causing the vaginal tissues to become thinner, drier, less elastic, and even inflamed. This is referred to as vaginal atrophy and can result in the vaginal canal feeling too tight during sexual activity.  Vaginal atrophy typically occurs after menopause and can not only make intercourse and sex painful, but it can also lead to distressing urinary symptoms.

Past Abuse or Trauma

Body memories of abuse or trauma may be triggering vaginal tightening upon thought of those event, flashbacks, or actual genital touch or attempted vaginal penetration, and making the woman subconsciously react by clenching that causes the vagina to tighten.

Sexual Dysfunction

A reactive vagina can be caused by sexual dysfunction, including the following examples: experiencing performance anxiety in the sexual setting? Being forced to engage sexually?  Not sure if you are ‘doing it right?’ Partner only want their pleasure, without attending to the woman sexual want and need? Religious & cultural sexual restrictions and expectations that clash with the woman’s want to explore and experiment sexually?  Not able to get aroused/climax? Not wanting to be with partner but forcing self to engage nonetheless?  Watch our video, How to Identify Sexual Stress.

How to Help Loosen Your Tight Vagina

Attend to The Cause

Since not every dry vagina is caused by the same thing, finding the root cause is essential so a suitable solution can be utilized.  Review the list above for common causes and see if you can sort it out yourself.  If you cannot, or if in doubt, reach out to your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment recommendation.

Use Vaginal Dilators & Dilation Therapy

Vaginal dilation is a valuable intervention for addressing diminished vaginal elasticity, vaginal anxiety, penetrative pain, and post-surgical rehabilitation. Using vaginal dilators can help overcome some of the issues you may be experiencing and loosen up your vagina, especially if you have a small vagina. A dilator kit can be ordered online for self use, or be done under the professional guidance of a pelvic floor physical therapist.  Read more here.

Vaginal Lubrication, Vaginal Moisturizer, Vaginal Estrogen

Treat the tight vagina nicely so it can work for you!  Vaginal lubrication, vaginal moisturizer, and vaginal estrogen have different purposes so familiarize yourself by watching this video How to Use Vaginal Lubrication.

Kegel Exercises

When the tight vagina is caused by the pelvic floor muscles being constantly squeezed, doing Kegel Exercises may be of benefit.  Although harmless, such hyperactive pelvic floor needs to be evaluated by a healthcare professional to rule out any other involvement.

Overall, keeping the pelvic floor muscles in good shape to support the urogenital organs is a good choice.  Doing Kegel Exercises gets the blood flowing in the area, promote vaginal lubrication, and definitely enhances climaxing.  If needed, reach out to pelvic floor physical therapist for guidance.  Watch this video about Kegel Exercises.

Anxiety Management

Managing the anxiety is key, and more so once it has established a vaginal connection.  It does not take much for anxiety to settle into disruptive patterns and the longer one delays treatment, the more established those patterns will become.

  • For penetrative pain disorders – vaginismus, dyspareunia – contact us or reach out to a specialist in your locale;
  • For sexual dysfunction, contact us or reach out to a sex therapist or a sex counselor;
  • For generalized anxiety, reach out to a psychotherapist or ask your healthcare provider for recommendations;
  • For past abuse/trauma, reach out to a trauma therapist for appropriate psychotherapy, EMDR, CBT, DBT intervention.

Tips For Maintaining Vaginal Health & Elasticity

In addition to the above suggestions, also consider the following tips:

Genital Hygiene

Genital hygiene remains a confusing subject for women.  How to do it right? What is safe? What is needed vs what is optional?  Watch our video series about this topic, Feminine Hygiene (Part I, and Part II, and Part III) as well as this post.

Healthy Diet & Lifestyle

Practicing healthy lifestyle habits will be of great value for your vaginal health as more and more research is emerging about the connection between what we do & ingest and our physical health and performance.  In fact, there is an emerging field of medicine dedicated to this very topic and titled, Lifestyle Medicine, which promotes six areas of needed attention:

  1. Whole-food plant based diet (with occasional animal protein);
  2. Keeping active, and vigorous exercise of at least 150 minutes per week;
  3. Stress management;
  4. Restorative sleep of at least 8 hours and keeping as much of a routine schedule as possible;
  5. Avoidance of harmful substances, i.e. alcohol, drugs, etc.;
  6. Supportive relationship and social connections.

Regular Check-Ins With Your OBGYN

Although women often sort out many of their vaginal issues on their own, having a regular check-in with your OBGYN is urged so they can perform an in-depth examination of your urogenital system and provide needed feedback and guidance.

Talk to an Expert About Vaginal Health

We have been at the forefront of practicing sexual medicine for many years and have vast experience treating women’s sexual and emotional health needs.  We offer in-person as well as virtual treatment, so let us know if we can be of help with any of the above-mentioned concerns.

About The Author

Dr. Ditza Katz

Ditza Katz, PT, Ph.D., is the founder of Women’s Therapy Center, a practice specializing in urogynecologic rehabilitation, treatment of female sexual dysfunction, breast & female cancer rehabilitation, and management of somatic disorders. Dr. Katz holds an undergraduate degree in Physical Therapy, a Master’s degree in Pastoral Psychology & Counseling, a doctorate in Clinical Sexology, and clinical training in manual therapy and urogynecology. Dr. Katz is a Diplomate with the American Board of Sexology, Professor at the American Academy of Clinical Sexology located in Orlando, Florida, and the only physical therapist in the USA who is a clinical sexologist.

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