February 28, 2008

Q&A: Vaginal Size, Cheating And Arousal: Did Her Vagina Get Wider?

Dr. Debby Herbenick answers a male reader's question about the changing shape of the vagina during arousal and if vaginas get larger through sexual activity.

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Question: My girlfriend and I have been sexually active for several months now and she has always had felt the same, tightness wise, to me. I had not seen her for two weeks because we have a long distance relationship and it seems her vagina has became wider since the last time that I saw her. I asked her if she masturbated at all and she told me no. Is there any way for her to have gotten wider without cheating on me?

Although women’s vaginas can vary a little bit in size from one woman to another, vaginal size typically does not change dramatically over the course of two weeks.

It is unlikely that your girlfriend’s vagina has actually grown wider, but we can provide some information about the vagina and women’s sexual response that might help to give some context to that in a moment.

Concern About Vaginal Size

Another issue worth considering is your concern about her vaginal size. Some people wonder about genital size because they have learned about sex mainly from their friends, from magazines or web sites, and there are quite a lot of myths about men’s and women’s genitals that still persist (e.g., that men with bigger penises are better lovers; that vaginas become permanently “loose” from lots of sex; that if a man can’t get an erection, it means he isn’t attracted to his partner; that only older women have difficulty with lubrication).

Aside from misinformation, could there be other reasons why you’re concerned about her size? Might it be that you are comparing her to other women you have been with (or thought about being with)? Or if it’s not her size you’re focused on, but a concern about her being with other men, where might those thoughts come from?

Talk About Your Concerns

If you have concerns about being able to trust one another, or how to deal with your own or her sexual attraction to others when you are apart from each other, it is probably worth raising the issue, and talking about your concerns, rather than focusing on her vagina and what it may or may not mean.

Long distance relationships can work, but they often are helped by conversations related to trust, exclusivity and managing attraction to other people.

Vaginal Size and Sexual Excitement

In regard to the vagina, it is important to know that vaginas can change in size during sexual excitement thanks to a pretty amazing process called “vaginal tenting”. What happens is this: vaginas start out at about 3-4 inches in length (during an unaroused state).

During sexual excitement, muscular tension pulls the uterus upward, which has the effect of making the vagina both longer and wider. Now, instead of being 3-4 inches in length, a vagina may reach approximately 5-6 inches in length – big enough to more comfortably accommodate penetration with a man’s penis, a sex toy or a partner’s fingers.

When a woman’s body returns to its resting (unaroused) state, so does her vaginal size. The vagina does not stay “tented.” Even so, sometimes a woman’s vagina may feel tighter or looser during vaginal penetration, just as a man’s penis might feel bigger or smaller to his partner. Often this change in perception is due to a difference in lubrication.

Lubrication Also A Factor

If your girlfriend was very excited to be sexual with you (which she may very well have been after spending two weeks apart) or if you spent more time in foreplay or did something that felt particularly exciting to her, then her vagina may have lubricated more than usual – and it may have already tented by the time you had sex with her (and again, the tenting is likely to make her vagina feel bigger). More lubrication would create less friction which could make her vagina feel wider to you.

On the other hand, sometimes a woman does not lubricate much on her own. This may occur as a side effect of taking certain medications (including certain types of birth control), following a warm bath or shower (warm water can slightly dry the vaginal walls), or when little time has been spent in foreplay.

In such instances, if a woman is not well lubricated, her vagina may feel smaller or tighter. From a woman’s perspective, her partner’s penis may seem bigger or smaller based on her level of lubrication, too.

Of course, we know that the vagina isn’t “really” growing or shrinking, just as a man’s penis isn’t really growing bigger or smaller – it is just a difference in how we perceive it to feel.

Keep in mind that it would not be a good idea to try to make yourself “feel bigger” by having sex when her vagina is very dry or has not had a chance to lubricate – after all, natural vaginal lubrication can help sex to feel more comfortable and pleasurable for women, and can reduce the risk of vaginal tearing. Lubrication is protective for women and their bodies.

Learn More

To learn more about men’s and women’s bodies and how our bodies influence the way we experience sex, check out The Guide to Getting It On.

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