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Heather Corinna replies:
My girlfriend came home from a party. I wasn't with her. When she got home we went to bed. Neither of us have intercourse because of our beliefs. We do "fool around." She wanted me to stimulate her as usual which involves inserting my finger in her vagina. Normally, it's relatively for lack of a better term tight. This time her opening was wide open. Open to the point the I could have inserted 2 or 3 fingers. This was not a normal thing for her in the time we've been together. Is it possible that the opening was like that because of penetration of something else, say a penis? I never said anything to her about it but I'm concerned.
And Butterflyeye asks...
Can a guy tell how many sex partners that you've had judging by the tightness or lack thereof in your vagina?
We get a lot of questions like this, so let's try and clear up the matter once and for all.
With a majority of women, if you were nosing around their vulvas when they hadn't VERY recently given birth, you still wouldn't likely be able to tell that they have had infants. As reproductive health professionals, the way we usually can tell that just by looking isn't by looking at the vagina, but at the opening of the cervix, for the record, which isn't something you can see without using a speculum.
Penises aren't as big as infants, nor are fingers. Consensual sex isn't half the physical ordeal -- to say the least -- that childbirth is. If we, as sexual partners, as laymen, cannot tell when a woman has had several vaginal deliveries, there is no way on earth anyone can tell who has had sex or how often just by looking or feeling.
You gotta understand, too, that the vaginal opening and canal is not this passive thing that just sits there, only changed by something once happening to it or entering it, and different ever after. It's an active muscle, an awful lot like your mouth. We can't feel inside someone's mouth or look at someone's lips -- unless they have JUST eaten, and been a bit messy about it -- and know what they eat, how they eat, how often they eat, or when they had their first solid food. A person with a mouth that is wider is a person who is opening that mouth at the time, or who, genetically, has a wider mouth. Again, same with the vagina.
When a woman is very aroused, her vaginal opening and canal will loosen. For you, Anonymous, what's likely is that you finally happened to be feeling your partner's vulva and vagina when she was very aroused and sexually excited. Too, our fertility cycles can also cause some changes, so it's normal for women to be more dry, less open, less easy to enter during some phases of each cycle, and less so at other times.
Butterflyeye, the same also goes for you. How "loose" or "tight" your vagina is isn't about how many sexual partners you've had. It's about muscle tone (and muscles aren't made looser by using them, which you probably already know from your own arms or legs) and about your arousal and relaxation. The vagina of a woman who has had twenty sexual partners could resemble the vagina of a woman who has had but one if both women were of similar age, similar muscle tone, similar genetics, similar relaxation or arousal.
But really, it's a vagina, folks, not a crystal ball. You can't see or feel the past or future in it.
When you want to know things about where it's been with the person whose body its part of, you ask the person it is attached to, and that is the ONLY way you know. If you don't trust that person, or don't feel like you can, you work that out with yourself and with them, not with whatever secret messages you feel like their genitals might be able to send you. If you have concerns your partner who is supposed to be monogamous hasn't been -- and those concerns are based in something real, not the ever-changing state of the genitals -- then you need to bring up those concerns directly, in a question, not with a genital examination.
If you're with a partner with whom you don't feel you can be honest about your life experiences, including your sexual history, that's likely not a good partner for you to choose, or it'd at least be wise to get to know them better, develop more trust and acceptance between you before choosing to be sexually active with them.
If someone won't accept you full stop because of a certain type or quantity of sexual activity, then you throw that fish back, if you are the one BEING that person, then I'd encourage you to try and understand that when we like someone, what we like is who their life and their experiences has brought them to be. Perhaps their sexual history makes you feel insecure: that's your issue to work out, and it's one that you'll really need to work out to have a healthy sexuality and healthy sexual relationships. But personally, I think that really good connections between people are so rare that it's a crying shame to dismiss a partner because their previous experiences don't fit your fantasies, and I'd encourage you to examine why this is even an issue.
Of course, if this is about worry about sexually transmitted infection, know that so far, we've only proven that either full-stop abstinence (not the everything-but-vaginal-sex kind) or full safer sex practices -- monogamy, testing, latex barriers -- reduces or prevents the spread of STIs. So, if that's your worry or a partner's worry, the thing to discuss is sex safety and risk reduction, and to be sure you're both doing all you can to use those practices consistently. If you're avoiding one kind of sex, but not another, because of religious beliefs, just be sure you're still being realistic. Much "fooling around" is sex, no more or less so than intercourse is, and carries the same sorts of risks. If you're not being smart about those risks, get smart with safer sex practices or start making different choices about having sex.
For more accurate information on the vagina, have a look here: Innies & Outies: The Vagina, Clitoris, Uterus and More. For more on why a vagina might feel tighter or looser, and how arousal and relaxation changes the landscape, take a peek at the following: