Chances are, you first heard – and maybe believed – it in the playground. That’s probably because the logic behind the myth is so patently juvenile that a misled child just might trust it to be true.
Sadly, however, like many other lurid fallacies about the female anatomy, it has gained something many women wish more men had… stamina and staying power.
In fact, the misconception has probably been lurking around the margins of our collective consciousness for as long as women have been having sex. That is, that the vagina of a woman who has sex with multiple partners will become loose over time.
We’ve all heard jokes about it at one point or another, haven’t we? The notion is so prevalent that many women have bought into it, doing Kegel exercises and applying vaginal creams to “tighten” themselves.
Loose Woman, Loose Vagina Myth
But the fact is there is no such thing as a loose vagina. That lovely part of the feminine anatomy might change over time, but it won’t lose its elasticity permanently because of sex.
So how did this myth start? Well, you will notice the malicious sexism at the core of the misconception once you begin investigating how male-dominated society tends to make distinctions among women.
Strangely enough, the ‘loose vagina phenomenon’ only exists for women who are not in a monogamous relationship.
According to the myth, a woman who has had sex with 20 different men is looser than a wife who has had sex with her husband 20 times.
If the logic of the assertion escapes you, it’s because there is none in the first place. Our phallocentric society has historically employed the myth as a way to disgrace women for their sex lives.
Its origins date back to a time when society assented to men treating women like property – or worse.
Today, the term is yet another way our society shames the autonomy of women, suggesting their worth declines each time they have sex outside of marriage.
Somewhere along the line, we were taught that women who have sex with several partners lose their elasticity.
The same sort of outdated bias is at work – albeit indirectly – when we call a woman’s journey home from a sexual encounter “the walk of shame.” A man isn’t inclined to feel shame walking home after such an encounter – quite the opposite, truth be told.
That’s why Angela Jones, gynecologist and sexual health adviser for Astroglide, laughs at the notion that sex with multiple partners robs a woman of her elasticity.
“Babies pass through vaginas for crying out loud,” says Jones. “This is the obvious reason penises, no matter how many, can’t ‘loosen’ a vagina. A penis in the vagina, no matter how many, is like dropping a pebble in a pond. You see the effects initially, then there are no after effects.”
Only two things can affect a woman’s vaginal elasticity: age and childbirth. Frequent sex – or the lack thereof – won’t cause a women’s vagina to lose any of its stretch.
Kegel exercises might strengthen a woman’s vaginal muscles, but they don’t actually tighten her vagina.
Age, Childbirth, and Natural Changes
“It’s natural for your vagina to change after a vaginal delivery,” says Suzanne Falck, associate professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. “If you’ve had multiple childbirths, your vaginal muscles are more likely to lose a little bit of elasticity.”
Women may also begin to see a change in elasticity starting in their 40s. That’s because their estrogen levels will begin to drop as they enter the perimenopausal stage.
A loss of estrogen means vaginal tissues become thinner, drier, less acidic, and less flexible. “These changes may become more noticeable once you reach full menopause,” says Falck.
The opposite of loose isn’t necessarily a good thing, either. Falck sees more cause for concern for women who feel a tightness during sex.
A woman’s vaginal muscles naturally relax when she’s aroused. If she’s not turned on or physically prepared for intercourse, her vagina won’t relax, self-lubricate, and stretch, making sex painful or impossible to complete, says Falck.
Extreme vaginal tightness could also be a sign of vaginismus, she goes on. This is a treatable physical disorder that affects one in every 500 women, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The Same Goofy Logic, the Other Way Around
Still not convinced? Consider, then, how absolute hilarity ensues once the same logic is applied to male genitalia. After all, the male penis demonstrates its own kind of elasticity.
That revered part of the male anatomy ‘grows’ when a man is in a state of arousal, shrinks when – well – it’s cold.
If a man believes that a woman of ‘inferior morals’ eventually loses her vagina’s springiness, he would then choose ‘virtuous’ women with ‘tight’ vaginas, wouldn’t he? After all, the tighter, the better.
Since nature doesn’t share our prejudices, one must assume that, after having repeatedly penetrated ‘tight’ vaginas, a man’s penis will eventually lose its girth due to squishing.
Imagine, then, living against a stigma that says that the more sex you have with a variety of women, the smaller your penis becomes.
After a while, the virile ladies’ man – the man’s man – would encounter difficulties trying to convince women he isn’t as small as people say.
Of course, the truth is that it doesn’t matter with whom a man has sex or how often: sexual intercourse will not affect his size.
No amount of penetration will cause a man’s penis to shrink just as no number of sexual partners will cause a woman’ s vagina to stretch permanently.
While some men would probably like to think they’re of a size as to stretch a woman for good, that, too, is the stuff of misinformed mythology. But that’s a story for another day. In the meantime…
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