Sat | Aug 24, 2019

Dear Doc | My vagina needs tightening

Published:Sunday | July 14, 2019 | 12:07 AM

Q Dear Doc, I saw in The Gleaner earlier this week, an article about exercises to tighten the vagina. However, it was rather short. I am very interested in this as I feel as though my vagina could do with some tightening (my boyfriend is actually the one who said so), but I do not know what to do to get it tighter. Could you give more information about these exercises?

A It is truly unfortunate for your boyfriend to have said that, and it has been the cause for the emergence of all these pills, soaps, creams, steams and other products geared to ‘tightening a vagina’; most of which causes more harm than benefit. So before I answer your question, I wanted to make it very clear that:

- There’s no such thing as a ‘loose’ vagina!

- Your vagina may change over time due to age and childbirth, but it won’t lose its stretch permanently.

- The myth of a ‘loose’ vagina has historically been used as a way to shame women for their sex lives, as it is commonly used to describe a woman who has had sex with more than one man; yet, it was never used to describe a woman who has a lot of sex with her partner.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter who you have sex with or how often you do, penetration cannot cause your vagina to stretch out permanently.

Only two things can affect your vagina’s elasticity and those are age and childbirth.

You may begin to see a change in your vagina’s elasticity starting in your 40s. That is because of the fall in oestrogen levels that will happen as you enter the perimenopausal period.

This loss of oestrogen causes your vaginal tissue to become thinner, drier, less stretchy and less flexible. These changes become more noticeable once you are postmenopausal.

Women who have had more than one vaginal birth are more likely to have weakened vaginal muscles. However, ageing can also cause this, regardless of whether you have had children or not.

It is natural for your vagina to change after a vaginal delivery. After delivery, you may notice that your vagina feels slightly looser than it did before delivery, and that is completely normal. Your vagina will start to snap back a few days after giving birth, although it may not return to its original state completely.

If this is what you are uncomfortable with, there are exercises you can do to strengthen your vaginal floor muscles before, during, and after pregnancy.

HOW DO YOU STRENGTHEN YOUR VAGINAL MUSCLE?

Pelvic exercises are a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

- Kegel exercises

First, you need to identify your pelvic floor muscles. To do so, stop your urine midstream while you are peeing. If you succeed in doing this, then you have isolated the right muscles which you will be exercising, which are the same muscles that you clenched in order to stop the flow of urine.

• You could also imagine you are sitting on a marble (do not use a real marble), then pretend you want to lift that imaginary marble off the chair, using your vagina by clenching your pelvic muscles.

• Or, you could place a finger inside your vagina and squeeze the muscles around your finger.

Now that you have identified your pelvic floor muscles, follow these steps:

1. Pick a position for your exercises. You can do the exercises in any position (sitting in a chair or lying down). Most people prefer lying on their back.

2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles. Hold the pelvic muscle contraction for approximately eight to 10 seconds, and then relax the muscles.

3. Relaxing the muscles is just as important as contracting.

4. In the beginning, it may not be possible to hold the contraction for more than a few seconds, so you can try holding the contraction for five seconds, relaxing for another five seconds to start.

5. Perform eight to 12 exercises three times per day.

6. Try to do this every day, but no less than three or four times a week. Continue this regimen for at least 15 to 20 weeks.

 

- Pelvic tilt exercises

To strengthen your vaginal muscles using a pelvic tilt exercise:

1. Stand with your shoulders and butt against a wall, and knees slightly bent.

2. Pull your belly button in towards your spine. When you do this, your back should flatten against the wall.

3. Tighten your belly button for four seconds, then release.

4. Do this 10 times, for up to five times a day.

These can also be done in a lying position.

 

- Vaginal cones

You can also strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by using a vaginal cone. This is a weighted, tampon-sized object that you put in your vagina and hold.

To do this:

1. Insert the lightest cone into your vagina.

2. Squeeze your muscles. Hold it in place for about 15 minutes, twice a day.

3. Increase the weight of the cone you use as you become more successful in holding the cone in place in your vagina.

 

- Neuromuscular electrical stimulation

In addition to exercises you can also add electrical stimulation called neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) to the pelvic muscles.

NMES can help strengthen your vaginal muscles by sending an electric current through your pelvic floor using a probe. The electrical stimulation will cause your pelvic floor muscles to contract and relax.

You can use a home NMES unit or have your doctor perform the treatment. A typical session lasts 20 minutes. You should do this once every four days, for a few weeks.

deardoc@gleanerjm.com