Q: I have an embarrassing question. How can you tell if your vagina is loose? I met someone and he couldn’t keep his hands off of me, so I know it wasn’t an issue of attraction. Soon I gave in and decided to sleep with him. He couldn’t get an erection. It was just a semi and I feel like I’m the problem. I haven’t given birth and I’d like to think that I have sex moderately. How is it possible that my vagina is loose? Can you advise me please? Thank you!
A: Vaginas are fascinatingly flexible. The vaginal walls are made of contractile tissue, meaning muscle. These muscles can stretch to accommodate something as small as a finger and as large as a baby’s head. While vagina-owners may require recovery time after delivering a baby for the vagina to return to its original level of elasticity, vaginas do not become more “loose” after a certain amount of sex.
That being said, you do have some control over the strength of your pelvic floor muscles (also known as kegel muscles). To locate your kegel muscles, try stopping the stream of urine next time you pee. The muscles you’re tightening to do that are your pelvic floor muscles. You can exercise these by squeezing them in three second intervals. There are also kegel balls available to exercise these muscles, which can be worn throughout the day and come in different sizes and weights. Stronger kegel muscles will lead to stronger orgasms!
So then, what was the reason for your partner’s loss of erection? There are a multitude of reasons that can explain erectile difficulties. First, let’s break down this common misconception: Erections are not a direct measure of arousal levels. The size of an erection is not a measure of how sexually desirable you are or how into the moment your partner is; let your partner tell you whether or not they want to have sex, not their penis.
That being said, there are a few possible explanations for a non-erect penis during sex. Is your partner on medication? Certain drugs, including antidepressants, can make maintaining an erection or achieving orgasm difficult. Comfort level and stress can also contribute to erectile difficulties. Anxiety — whether it’s about the sexual encounter or something due at work the next day — can cause a penis-owner to go limp. Alcohol consumption, smoking, and fatigue are also all factors that can contribute to erectile difficulties.
While it’s rare for men under 40 years old, some men do experience chronic erectile dysfunction. If your partner has difficulty maintaining an erection over 50% of the time, that may be a sign of a condition requiring treatment.
The most effective way to tackle erectile difficulties with your partner is to communicate about them. Avoid accusatory language toward either you or your partner, such as statements like, “I think there is something wrong with you,” or “Is there something wrong with me?” Try bringing up the conversation outside of the bedroom. Taking yourselves outside of an already vulnerable scenario may make it easier to open up and communicate honestly.
Besides talking it through, there are a few sexual enhancement devices that can help. Cock rings are elastic rings worn at the base of the penis or around the testicles that restrict blood flow to the shaft of the penis. They come in all different sizes, and the CSPH recommends something stretchy for beginners. However, be wary of jelly-like materials that may be irritating. Rings made out of silicone or nitrile are usually your best bet. Some cock rings, like the Je Joue Mio, also vibrate in order to stimulate both partners simultaneously. A penis pump can also be a helpful tool. It creates a vacuum that tugs at the tissue of the penis, causing it to increase in size. The effects of a penis pump are usually more temporary compared to a cock ring, as penis pumps are used before sexual activity instead of during.
Remember: Normal is a frame of mind. Whether it’s the strength of your vagina or your partner’s erection, the most important thing is that you and your partner are having safe and pleasurable sex. Releasing expectations of a certain level of normalcy can reduce anxiety and solve some of these problems!
Join The CSPH as they celebrate their 5th birthday on Sept 19. Details at celebrate.thecsph.org.
Gwendolyn Rosen is a recent graduate from Wesleyan University with a dual degree in feminist, gender and sexuality studies and sociology. She is currently an intern at the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health and focused on reducing sexual shame through honest conversations and community building.