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Does the size of your vagina really matter?

Worrying about the size of one’s genitals is usually confined to men, but the truth is, women often ponder this question as well.

In particular, this is a question that plagues women after childbirth, as they come to terms with physical changes in their post-birth vagina and how it might affect intercourse.

Others who have smaller vaginas worry that they might experience a difficult birthing. These are valid concerns, and yet, not very many studies have been done on how vagina sizes affect reproductive activities.

Hence, in our discussion here, there is no measured way to determine if vagina size has any influence on sexual pleasure.

But, if you examine the wide range of knowledge that we do have on female genitalia, you will find that science and research will more likely point to the fact that the size of the vagina does not necessarily impact pleasure in intercourse. Let’s take a closer look.

Anatomy of the vagina

We use the word “vagina” loosely to refer to the entirety of our lady parts, but in reality, the vagina is one smaller component in the whole of our lady parts.

As a refresher, the outer part that we can see is known as the vulva, and consists of the clitoris and the labia. The latter can be further divided into labia minora and labia majora.

The vagina itself is only the tube that connects your uterus to the world outside, and runs between the cervix and the vulva. Naturally, it plays an important role in childbirth and to accommodate the penis during sexual intercourse.

This vaginal tube varies in size from woman to woman, but has an incredible ability to expand in order to fit a tampon or a baby on its way out of its mother’s womb, ready to join the world.

Like the stomach, it contains folds that spread out when more space is needed and tucks itself back in when not in use, not unlike those foldable grocery bags that you can fold into a very small and compact pouch.

Accommodating and changeable

The vagina is a very elastic organ that is small enough to hold a tampon in place, but can expand enough to allow a baby through.

The walls of the vagina are similar to those of the stomach – they have rugae, meaning they fold together to collapse when unused, then expand when necessary. It changes to accommodate whatever is going on at that time.

The most commonly used measurements regarding the size of vaginas come from Masters and Johnson’s work from the 1960s.

They looked at 100 women who had never been pregnant and found that vagina lengths, unstimulated, range from 2.75 inches to about 3¼ inches.

When a woman is aroused, it increased to 4.25 inches to 4.75 inches. Regardless of how long the vagina is, the area that is thought to be important for most women’s sexual response is the outer one-third.

So, how does length relate to sexual satisfaction? No one seems to know for sure.

Pain during sex

Hence, with the exception of the first time, one should generally not experience pain during sex, even if her partner is slightly larger than average.

Any pain experienced might point to insufficient foreplay. Foreplay is a key part of intercourse that couples should not skip, as it helps to better lubricate and expand the vaginal canal.

Of course, reasons for painful intercourse could be completely unrelated to size. A condition such as vaginismus, where a woman experiences involuntary muscle spasms, requires long-term treatment and additional doctor’s advice.

Women who have recently gone through childbirth and are adjusting to any changes, may experience prolapse, a condition where organs like the uterus or the bladder are slightly out of place.

It happens because the pelvic floor muscles are stretched and weakened, and the woman might also experience related issues like leaky urine or urinary incontinence.

But don’t let this put you off natural childbirth! Younger, healthy individuals generally won’t suffer from prolapse, though women who are close to menopause should be more cautious and seek a doctor’s help if they experience prolapse.

The good news is that it can be prevented. There are exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, even if it requires some effort.

The walls of the vagina are similar to those of the stomach – they have rugae, meaning they fold together to collapse when unused, then expand when necessary. — AFP

Kegel exercises can help

Kegels is a form of exercise you may have heard of, but never thought to try – after all, it’s not as straightforward as picking up a dumbbell to perform bicep curls.

Done right, Kegel exercises will help improve pelvic floor muscles, reducing problems like incontinence and the symptoms of prolapse.

Kegel exercises do not change the size of your pelvic floor. Rather, the aim is to reinforce the muscles in that area, which supports the bladder, womb, and even bowels. It’s even said to improve sex by prolonging orgasms.

The initial challenge with performing Kegel exercises is identifying the correct muscles you are trying to strengthen. You can try the following three methods to find your pelvic floor muscles:

• Gently insert a (clean!) finger into the vaginal canal and squeeze, to get a sense of where your pelvic muscles are.

• When urinating, stop the flow, midway, by squeezing. Relax and contract several times to get familiar with how the muscles feel when performing this action. However, this method should only be for educational purposes and is not advisable for regular exercises, as it can lead to urinary issues.

• For a more accurate way to train your pelvic floor muscles, you may be able to seek biofeedback training from a licensed gynaecologist.

It involves inserting a probe that is connected to a computer that tracks pelvic muscle movement on a monitor. From there, your doctor will be able to determine if you are contracting the proper way.

Now, there are even Kegel trainers that you can use at home.

A Kegel trainer is like a vaginal fitness tracker, shaped like a slightly inflated tampon. When inserted, it helps you with squeezing the right muscles, while recording the activity and letting you know of your progress.

The exact features depend on individual products, with some tracking real-time exercises via an app, and others letting you know the results of your workout on the device itself.

Once you have a good grasp on where your pelvic floor muscles are and how to contract them, it will take several months of consistent training to see results, which are well worth it. So, be patient and keep squeezing!

What really matters

Our fears that vagina size affect sexual health are largely unfounded. Instead of size, we should look at other factors that might affect sexual pleasure, such as lack of desire, arousal, insufficient lubrication, or even other related health problems.

For overall pelvic health, women should focus on helping their bodies retain the elasticity of the pelvic floor muscles, which support the womb, bowel and bladder.

This is especially true for post pregnancy, and luckily, Kegel exercises are quite effective in helping to improve your pelvic floor muscles. But you must be patient and consistent.

All women, not just post-delivery women, should take up Kegel exercises, which not only improves pelvic health, but has been known to increase sexual pleasure as well.

However, as an option for those women with vaginal laxity or experiencing dryness of the vagina, laser vaginal rejuvenation (LVR) treatment could be considered. LVR treatment is a safe, reliable, non-invasive treatment with no downtime, which you can easily fit into your busy schedule.

However, for women experiencing vaginismus, it is best to consult your gynaecologist for the appropriate treatment and whether Botox may be considered as an option.

In conclusion, it is not an exact physical fit that women are looking for in terms of sexual function that really matters, but it is more about the communication between the two partners and making sure both are getting what they need out of the experience and are comfortable.

By Datuk Dr. Nor Ashikin Mokhtar
Published in Star Newspaper, December, 2018