How do I keep my vagina tight after childbirth?
Obviously, you just need to do 1000 kegels a day and walk around with a kegel weight in your vagina for 4 hours minimum you'll stay tight down there!!!
JK JK DON'T DO THAT PLEASE!!!!!!!
Listen. If you're searching "how do I keep my vagina tight after childbirth" I want you coming here and reading this. You need this. Your vagina needs this. Please ignore the advice on google, it's garbage.
First, let's talk about what it means to have a "tight" vagina. When we talk about tightness, we're not actually talking about the vagina. It's viscera, so it doesn't "tighten." Rather, we're talking about the pelvic floor muscles. Muscles can be stretched, lengthened, tightened, contracted, tense, weak, or strong. A "tight" vagina indicates tight pelvic floor muscles. You know when you workout for the first time in a while, or do a difficult workout and the next day it feels "tight"? It's usually a sign of over-working the muscle. While it's fine in the context of a difficult workout, it's not something we want to experience all the time. This is *especially* true for the pelvic floor.
Typically, women can become concerned, especially post-partum, that their vagina is "loose." There are a lot of song lyrics and jokes over this concept, so I can understand where this idea of "being tight" or fear of "being loose" comes from.
Quick search on Lyrics.com *major eye roll*
Frankly, it's a myth. Yes, absolutely with pregnancy the pelvic floor is stretched. There's someone taking up a lot more space down there so it is a necessity that it stretches! However, not long after delivery, the muscles start to shorten again. The ~7-9 lb baby that was putting all that pressure through the pelvic floor is gone, so there's no need for the muscles to be lengthened anymore. Your body knows that and the muscles can return to their previous length, or become even shorter/tighter than before in response to delivery. Childbirth, no matter the method, is a trauma and injury to the pelvic floor, vagina, abdominal wall, and uterus. Our body's natural response to injury is to guard and go into "protection mode." When this happens, affected and surrounding muscles tense up and stay that way.
The pelvic floor doesn't just tighten up post-childbirth. It can be tight due to years of sitting, poor posture, a weak core, weak hips, high-level sports like gymnastics/dance/soccer/volleyball etc, anxiety, poor sleep, or a history of abuse or trauma. All of these can increase the stress and tension of the pelvic floor muscles.
When the pelvic floor muscles enter into "protection mode" and stay tensed up, ready for another traumatic event, they stop doing their job well. They are so busy trying to protect you that they forget to relax. When they stay "on" and are working *all* of the time, they get TIRED. When tight muscles are tired they don't just relax, they hold on tighter, accumulating inflammatory factors and limiting the blood flow that can enter the muscles and surrounding tissue (in this case the vaginal wall). This can lead to compensations elsewhere, increased muscle and tissue sensitivity, and pain.
How do you know if your pelvic floor muscles are too tight? You may deal with:
- Burning with sex or penetration
- Sharp pain with penetration
- Burning or pain of the vulva with or without touch
- Pain or achiness after orgasm
- Low back pain
- Ovulation pain
- Significant abdominal bloating
- Pain with bowel movements (either all the time or occasionally)
- Abdominal pain or achiness not otherwise explained
- Urinary frequency (going more than 1x/2 hr)
- Urinary urgency (feeling the urgent need to go but barely going once you get to the bathroom)
- Stress incontinence
- Urinary incontinence
- Tailbone pain
- Slow or weak urine stream
- Hesitancy prior to urinating or bowel emptying
- Incomplete bladder emptying (when you go and you know you have more to release but just can't)
If you experience any of the above, it's likely you are dealing with a tense and overprotective pelvic floor, who's really just doing its best but we need it to calm the f down.
The most effective way to treat any of the listed symptoms is to see a qualified pelvic floor physical therapist. They will get to the root of your symptoms and give you the best methods to address this according to your unique needs.
In the meantime focus on stretching your hips and taking deep belly breaths, and stop doing kegels!