Sexual Health Q&A

Can the vagina tighten over time?

The vagina is a flexible organ that can undergo many types of stretching over a lifetime, from tampon insertion, to 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 accept an erect penis.

Still, sometimes women feel their vagina is too “tight,” especially after a long period without sex, making intercourse uncomfortable. Reasons may include the following:

Anxiety. A woman may feel anxious about her relationship or 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.

Poor lubrication. Sufficient vaginal lubrication is critical for comfortable intercourse. Anxiety can contribute to poor lubrication. So can menopause. The hormone estrogen helps keep the vagina moist and elastic. When estrogen levels drop at menopause, vulvar and vaginal atrophy can occur. Vaginal cells change, making the vagina brittle and dry. 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 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 therapist to resolve their problems and learn how to communicate more effectively.

Use a lubricant. Lubricants can be purchased at most pharmacies, supermarkets, and department stores. They may be oil-, silicone-, or water-based. (Click here for more information on selecting a lubricant.) Keep in mind that not all lubricants can be used with latex condoms.

Women who are concerned about a tight vagina should see their gynecologist.