Curious, I once asked a female friend, a mother of two, if a woman’s vagina goes back to the same size after having children? “No, she drawled sarcastically, by the second child—they’re just walking out.”
The age-old concern of whether size matters is typically aimed at men, but this is a somewhat unasked and sensitive question for women too.
So what’s the “normal” size for women?
Well, the most commonly used measurements regarding the size of vaginas come from William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson’s pioneering research into sexuality from the late 1950s to 1990s. In one study, using a group of 100 women who had never been pregnant they found that vagina length, unstimulated, ranges from 2.75 inches to about 3¼ inches. When aroused, this can increase to 4.25 inches to 4.75 inches.
As Christine O’Connor, MD, director of adolescent gynaecology at Mercy Medical Centre in Baltimore points out, the vagina is a very “elastic” organ. “It doesn’t stay one particular size,” O’Connor says. “It changes to accommodate whatever is going on at that time.”
Small enough to hold a tampon, the vagina can expand enough to give birth to a child. This is achieved by the walls of the vagina being very similar to the stomach, they have rugae, transverse ridges which can fold together when unused, and expand when necessary.
Fast fact: the vagina can expand by 200% when sexually aroused!
The average length of the labia minora is less than 3/4 of an inch long
Labia Minora Size by Country
(Yes, someone got out a ruler and measured 2981 women.) Only 1.8% of women have labia longer than one-and-a-half inches. But remember: Every vulva is different and special. Some lips hang down. Some are tucked up inside. Some are long. Some are short. Some are even. Some aren't.
So how does size relate to sexual satisfaction for women? It’s unclear because research into many aspects of female sexuality, just haven’t been carried out. Nevertheless, the area that's thought to be important for most women’s sexual response is the outer third.
Does the vagina increase in size after childbirth?
The vaginal opening changes only marginally after childbirth. Limited research was carried out by the University of California in 1996, using a measurement called the pelvic organ prolapse quantification system. This showed a slight increase in the size of the opening after vaginal deliveries.
Doctors also found that increasing pelvic floor muscle tone can be helpful to reduce looseness. Kegel exercises proved to be very effective at strengthening these muscles, and they may generally, improve sex.
Size and sexual satisfaction?
So as with men, worrying about size and whether it changes over time is the wrong concern. In 2010, a study published in the International Urogynecology Journal considered patients 40 and older to see if there was a correlation between vaginal length, opening size and sexual satisfaction.
Researchers found desire, stimulation, orgasm, pain, and sexual satisfaction were not connected to vagina size. Instead, the best forecasters of sexual inactivity were advanced age, higher BMI, and not being in a committed relationship.
So precise physical fit, isn’t what to aim for in terms of sexual connection. What’s most important is communication between the two partners and making sure both are getting what they need out of the experience.
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