How to Stretch Vagina During Childbirth and Pregnancy

The vagina is comprised of elastic tissue that can stretch, but it cannot become permanently loose from sex or penetration. Instead, it could be a sign of not enough lubrication or the natural effects of childbirth and aging.

But if your vagina is tight and painful, there are steps you can take to improve your experience.

Stretching the Perineum

During pregnancy, the perineum (the area of skin and muscle between the vaginal opening and the anus) stretches to accommodate your baby. Sometimes, this natural stretching causes perineal tears called episiotomies. This can be painful. If you are concerned about this, your community midwife can recommend perineal massage to help soften and prepare the area for birth.

The technique is simple. You can do it by yourself or with the help of a partner. Make sure you wash your hands and apply a water based lubricant if you like. Insert one or two thumbs about an inch or up to your first knuckle inside the vagina. Then gently, but firmly, push downwards and toward the sides at the same time. Keep the pressure on until you feel a slight tingling sensation, which is your perineum being stretched. Continue the massage for about 2 minutes.

This technique is a good choice for women who had more trauma to their pelvic muscles during birth, including tearing or an episiotomy. However, it’s important to note that not all studies support the idea that perineal massage reduces the chance of tears. The technique is not recommended for women with placenta praevia (low-lying placenta). Massaging the area during this condition can boost blood flow to the area, causing irritation and pain. This can also increase the risk of infection.

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Stretching the Vaginal Opening

As a young adult, you likely learned that the vagina is pretty flexible and can stretch to accommodate everything from a tampon to a penis and even a human baby. Your genitals are also able to change shape and size based on factors like sexual activity, weight fluctuations, or pregnancy.

Whether you’re having trouble with penetration during intercourse or using tampons, or experiencing pain in the vulva before, during or after sexual activity, you may be suffering from a tight vaginal opening or canal. Vaginal stretching is a safe and effective way to ease the tightness of your vulva, resulting in increased comfort and eliminating pain during intercourse, tampon use, or gynecological exams.

Many women with a tight vaginal opening or canal suffer from a condition called dyspareunia, which is painful and unpleasant sensations in the vulva before, during or immediately after sexual intercourse. In most cases, this is caused by a tight pelvic floor muscle that can be safely stretched and strengthened through dilator therapy.

Vaginal dilators are plastic or silicone tubes that can be purchased over-the-counter and come in a variety of sizes. In most cases, you can gradually work your way up to a larger dilator over time. To use a vaginal dilator, lay on your back with your knees bent slightly. Using your fingers, insert the end of the dilator at the front edge of your lower abdomen (right at the opening of your vaginal canal). Then, tense your pelvic muscles and as you relax, slide the dilator slowly upwards and outwards toward your vulva opening.

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Stretching the Pelvic Floor Muscles

The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for the movement of your uterus, bladder and bowels. These muscles are designed to contract and relax, just like all other muscles in your body. If these muscles are in a constant state of tightness, it can cause pain during sexual intercourse and penetration.

Women who experience this type of pain can benefit from pelvic floor stretching exercises. These can be done sitting down or lying down with your thighs and buttocks relaxed. Sit or lie down and squeeze the muscles in your pelvis (just like passing gas). Repeat this several times a day, making sure to relax your thighs and buttocks between repetitions.

Another way to strengthen and stretch these muscles is by doing kegel exercises. While sitting or standing, clench your abdominal muscles for three seconds and then release them. This should feel similar to trying to hold in urine. Repeat this exercise 10 times a day, twice a day.

This type of exercise can also help to strengthen the vaginal canal and perineum. It can be especially helpful during childbirth, as the muscles will naturally tighten to prepare for giving birth.

If you’ve recently had a baby, you may be wondering if your vaginal opening is too tight. While it’s common for this to happen after pregnancy, it can be caused by a rare physical abnormality or an underlying health condition. However, most women with this problem are able to loosen their vagina with a little practice.

Stretching the Vaginal Canal

Flash back to your very first period, when the idea of putting a plastic tampon in that little tube of yours was probably quite scary. But as a grown-up, you’ve learned that your vagina is pretty resilient and flexible. It can stretch to accommodate anything from a finger to a sex toy or even a penis. It’s also the hole where your baby exits during childbirth and where you pass menstrual blood when you’re on your period. A thin membrane called the hymen covers part of this opening and sometimes gets stretched open during sex, exercise or when inserting a tampon. This can lead to pain or bleeding during penetration or a condition called vaginismus, where the hymen is very tight and doesn’t move with your body.

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You can gradually retrain your vulva to expand by using a vaginal dilator (available in plastic or silicone and shaped like a penis) that’s chilled or warmed. Tense and relax the pelvic floor muscles, then insert the dilator into your vagina until you can close the space around it with your fingers. Repeat this daily, breathing out as you do it and eventually work up to stretching your vulva to about 1.5 inches.

A dilator can also help you feel for any lumps, bumps or raised areas in your vagina that could be sores or signs of disease. It’s also important to get your vagina checked regularly by an ob-gyn to rule out any serious problems that might need treatment.

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