What You Need To Know About Pelvic Floor Muscles

Photographed By Ashley Armitage.
No matter what sexist myths and insults say, your vagina can’t become “loose” from having a lot of sex, or a lot of sexual partners. We talked to Lauren Averbuch, MD, an OB/GYN who practices in New York, to get the facts about so-called vaginal "looseness."
The term “loose” is “a very derogatory statement,” Dr. Averbuch says. And calling a vagina “loose” misunderstands how the vagina actually works. “What I'd like others to understand is that the vagina is composed of multiple muscles that define the pelvic floor,” she says. “These muscles can tighten and relax depending on the circumstance (during arousal, the muscles relax). The relaxation of muscles can make the vagina more or less accommodating.”
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And although your vagina muscles relax during arousal, after sex or masturbation — or just have the moment’s passed and you’re no longer aroused — they tighten again. And that doesn’t change, no matter how many times you have sex or how many sexual partners you have.
However, there is one major event that can make the vaginal muscles weaken: childbirth. “Repetitive trauma to the muscles, such as delivery of multiple large children for some women, may weaken the muscles over time,” Dr. Averbuch explains. “Some women may deliver many large children and have no muscle weakness. Much of this is due to genetic predisposition and collagen make-up of tissue.”
These weakened muscles might lead to urinary incontinence — for example, leaking a few drops of pee when you laugh, cough, or sneeze. For some, these symptoms disappear a few weeks or months after childbirth, while for others, they persist long-term. Additionally, some people also experience weakened vaginal muscles when they go through menopause.
Kegel exercises, sometimes with kegel weights, can help strengthen the pelvic floor, and pelvic floor physical therapy can help as well. In pelvic floor physical therapy, you work with a professional to exercise your pelvic floor — much like any other kind of physical therapy.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help with any condition affecting the pelvic floor muscles, including vaginismus (in which the muscles contract or spasm), pelvic floor dysfunction, and endometriosis. Your doctor can advise on the right treatment for you.
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