There are many myths about vaginal tightness, many of them reinforced by popular culture. What many people think about the vagina’s “tightness” doesn’t have anything to do with the size of the vaginal canal. It’s actually a product of the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic Floor Muscles & Functions
These muscles surround the lower organs in a “hammock” shape, keeping them in place. This includes parts of the reproductive and excretory systems:
Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles Symptoms
When pelvic floor muscles weaken, these organs may shift, causing a variety of issues:
- Urinary incontinence
- Pelvic prolapse
- Bowel incontinence
- Vaginal bulging
- Sexual discomfort
- Pelvic pain
Causes of a Weak Pelvic Floor
So what can cause the pelvic floor to be weak? Age often plays a factor, as our muscles may atrophy as we grow older. Several other elements also play a role:
- Chronic coughing
- Frequent pushing during bowel movements
- Vaginal childbirth
- Lifting heavyweights
- Certain surgeries
- Weight gain
- Hormonal changes due to menopause
Fortunately, there are things you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and prevent strain.
1. Strengthen Your Core
You’ve probably heard the term “core” used by fitness professionals. This describes a set of muscles in the abdomen, of which the pelvic floor is a part. You can strengthen all these muscles with exercise. A few popular “core” workouts include:
A strong core can also help with other parts of your body, such as improving posture and relieving back pain. Athletes are especially encouraged to strengthen core muscles, as this can improve endurance and balance.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Frequent constipation can have an adverse effect on your pelvic floor, as it may strain the muscles. While constipation due to illness or menstruation is common, if you’re experiencing this condition on a regular basis, you may need to make changes to your diet.
Adding more fiber helps in two ways: hastening the digestive process and softening stool. Experts recommend that people with female anatomies consume at least 25 grams of fiber per day.
3. Change Your Bathroom Practices
Though it can be tempting to push during a bowel movement, especially if you’re constipated, medical professionals advise against it. Instead, you may be able to ease the process by changing your position over the toilet.
Instead of sitting on the toilet with your thighs at a 90-degree angle to your torso, try squatting. This fully relaxes your muscles, allowing the stool to pass through without resistance.
While many countries in Europe and East Asia have squatting toilets, they’re not very common in the United States. To squat on a U.S. toilet, you can set a step stool next to the toilet to help you keep your knees raised.
4. Exercise Your Pelvic Muscles
You’ve probably heard of vaginal tightening exercises, or kegel exercises, at least in passing. They’ve been the subject of jokes and curiosity in popular culture; Sex and the City famously featured them in an episode.
What these exercises are actually doing is strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Kegels are a popular choice, as they’re easy to do and don’t require any equipment. The steps are simple:
- Engage pelvic floor muscles
- Hold for a count of 10
- Repeat for five to 10 reps
5. Avoid Strain
Lifting heavy objects can sometimes strain the muscles of your pelvic floor. This usually occurs when people lift using the incorrect posture and engage the wrong group of muscles.
Instead of lifting “with your back,” use your legs to bear the majority of the weight. To do this, take a firm stance with feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees.
While talking about vaginal “tightness” often revolves around misinformation about female anatomy, your pelvic floor is a very real concern and deserves proper care.
Consider Vaginal Rejuvenation at Adam & Eve Medical Aesthetics
Women who suffer from stress incontinence or discomfort during intercourse are often good candidates for laser vaginal rejuvenation. Women who choose this procedure often recognize that they’ve had their vaginal walls stretched after childbirth or as the result of drastic weight loss or the aging process.
Immediately after treatment, many women notice a tighter, healthier-feeling vagina. Call or contact us online to learn if vaginal rejuvenation is right for you.
Image Credit: Getty Images/Doucefleur