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Let's let this be the last word on "worn out" vaginas, shall we?

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Anonymous asks:

I've heard several people on this site explain the issue of a male's penis size as it relates to pleasure to a female's vagina and Heather said once that the thicker the size the more sensation one will feel. The thing is that no one ever said that size truly matters everyone including Heather says it does not. So I have a question just to see if I'm hearing and understand you correct.

My boyfriend is lets say, for argument's sake, 4 inches long and 1 inch wide and when he's in I feel nothing, but my first lover was 8 inches long and 3 inches wide: you're saying he did not make it too big for my current boyfriend to give me or for himself to get good sensations? Your saying that if it was in reverse, that my first lover had the 4 inch by 1 inch penis, and I was fully lubricated my first time with him I still would have felt nothing then also? If that is what your saying then is it true that the women in adult fims who have sometimes hundreds of partners could get and give a man that has s 3 inch by 1 inch penis the same sensations that a virgin or a non virgin that has had only 1 partner could, assuming they both were willing and aroused fully and lubricated enough?

Heather Corinna replies:

Oooooooooookay.

Let's try to go ahead and unpack all of this, once and for all.

First things first: the vagina is a muscle. It's not some flippety-floppedy passive tube, nor is it tissue like your skin. It's muscle, like the muscles of your arms, legs or tongue. When we put something inside of it, it constricts to hold what is inside of it. When we remove whatever that is, within a relatively short time -- and I don't mean weeks or months, I mean hours -- it'll go right back to the state it was in before that something was inside. When there is nothing inside the vagina, it doesn't hang open: its walls collapse against themselves. If they did not, we'd all be walking around with constant genital infections. Goodness knows what we'd find in our vaginas at the end of a day at the beach!

Certainly, not every woman (or person, of any gender and kind of genitals) has the same body composition per genetics, so are not all born with the exact same layout and size when it comes to our vaginas, but there's hardly a huge range. There is a far larger range of "resting" penis sizes than there are resting vaginal "sizes," similarly to how there are a LOT of different show sizes, but only a few sizes of socks (and for similar reasons: socks and vaginas are way more stretchy and flexible than penises or shoes).

Can some things change -- permanently -- the width of the vagina? A couple. (Kind of.) With age -- not sexual experience -- that muscle tone can decrease slightly, but not usually dramatically, especially before menopause. Women at 40 who have had plenty of sexual partners can generally use the same tampon sizes they used before, as a reference point, but they might use a slightly larger size than they did, say, at the start of puberty, though part of that isn't changes to the muscle with age so much as simply being less tense about putting things in the vagina, or about not having a partial hymen anymore. But if what you were suggesting were so, then women with a lot of partners in their lives for vaginal intercourse would have tampons just falling out on the floor from their vaginas all the time.

That doesn't happen.

It doesn't because, again, the vagina is a muscle that strongly holds what is within it. Even for those older, or post-childbirth, who do often find they experience some changes in muscle tone, as is the case with any other kind of muscle, just working that muscle (such as with exercises called kegels) will often vastly improve that.

For adult film performers, or any other woman who has had many partners, again, this really isn't going to change anything in terms of how intercourse feels for either partner or in terms of how large or wide the vaginal canal is in any permanent way. Age can impact that, and often enough, so can childbirth, but even then, again, we are not talking (most of the time) about a radical change, but about a subtle one.

It might also be helpful to you to know that menstrual cups -- also held in place by the vaginal walls -- only come in TWO sizes that fit nearly all women. A size to be used by those under 35 or before childbirth, and another to be used by those over 35 or after childbirth. Two sizes, that's it.

I'm sure I've explained this to you before, but just in case I have not, don't forget that temporarily, when you become sexually aroused, the vagina and the vaginal opening DO relax and loosen, and do widen. Oddly enough, though, in other ways, that area can get puffier and a little more constricted because of a lot of arousal. But neither are permanent: when you're not aroused anymore, your vagina and vulva will look the same as they did before.

Long story short? Intercourse cannot change the geography or function of the vaginal canal, no matter the size of someone's penis.

All that said...

That doesn't mean that intercourse is going to feel exactly the same with every partner, for men or women. It won't even feel the exact same with any ONE partner all the time, or even throughout a single act of intercourse -- for instance, it's normal to have it all feel tighter right at the start of intercourse, before we get more and more aroused.

Unlike vaginas, the size of a man's penis isn't as adaptable and changeable. Certainly, a guy can have a harder or less hard erection at times, but his penis basically has two sizes that are pretty much static once he's an adult: the size he is flaccid (unerect) and the size he is erect. The vagina conforms to the shape and size of whatever is in side of it, so you can see how that's pretty different.

The average length of a grown male penis is around five and a half inches, and the average width (the measurement around the penis) is around four and a half inches. A four inch penis lengthwise is below average, but it's still within the arena of normal. A penis which is only one inch in width would be very unusual and far below what's average with width. If, perchance, by width you mean distance across, then that's getting closer to the average, but three inches ACROSS would be way above average, and highly unusual. I get the feeling that your idea of the range of penis sizes either isn't realistic, or that you're perhaps misunderstanding what width is, or estimating width by sight poorly. If you had a male partner whose width around was only an inch, it'd be no wonder it was difficult to feel any or much sensation during intercourse, just like you're not likely to feel a whole lot from using a tampon once it's in. Either example you've given here with the two penises, actually, are of widths which are smaller than average.

Too, there's a lot more to the sensations of intercourse than just a size "match." The vaginal canal, once you get past the first 1/3 of it, actually isn't at all sensitive to fine touch, or surface sensations. Instead, the way it's sensitive is due to fullness and pressure, pressure put on what surrounds the vaginal canal, which are mostly portions of the internal clitoris. So, the larger or wider whatever is inside it is, the more sensation a person will tend to feel (and how that sensation feels varies: sometimes it might feel amazing, other times it might feel painful and not good at all). That's part of why many women will report feeling more from deep manual sex than penis-in-vagina intercourse. That's also why length really is a non-issue, because what feels the most sensory for women with intercourse happens right up front.

For people with a penis and with vulvas alike, everyone also has different curves and shapes, and doesn't fit together exactly the same. The vagina is very flexible, but it does have limits and it's own topography that isn't so changeable. As well, things like wetness and warmth, angles and positions, how fast or slow someone moves, deep or shallow -- all of these things create different feelings, and all are things people can change, no matter their size or shape.

You have the issue of circumcision or not. Uncircumcised penises, because they have a foreskin, tend to create a bit more friction and texture than those which have been circumcised. (That also often feels different for sexual partners.) A man who isn't feeling the sensation he'd like to be during intercourse may need to add lube, shift his position, move faster or slower, deeper or shallower....I hope by now you're getting the picture.

And yes: some people are going to find that with the specifics of anyone else's body or their parts -- whether we're talking penises or any other part of the body -- they don't create the kinds of feelings or sensations, with certain activities, they'd like. But there really is no reason for that to be some huge deal: that just usually means that those people need to explore doing things differently with those parts or doing different sexual activities, with other parts (or toys) entirely to find the kind of sensation they're looking for.

No one ever decreed (or if they did, it sure was silly of them) that somehow any one sexual activity was supposed to be everyone's favorite, all or any of the time. Intercourse is ONLY one kind of sex: one kind of many, and it's usually a combination of activities, for men AND women, that's the big ticket when it comes to sexual satisfaction.

And if all that isn't clear enough, I'm not sure what is. I think that you'd be helped by simply recognizing how much ignorance there is about female anatomy, and how much that ignorance is influenced by some pretty crappy attitudes about women and sexuality. If you can just acknowledge that what you've been thinking just isn't right or accurate, and really apply some logic, I think it should be pretty easy for you to make more sense of all this.

In case you need a refresher course with female anatomy, have a look at this: Pink Parts - Female Sexual Anatomy. If you need some more information on some reason why intercourse isn't the biggest whoop of all time, see here: Yield for Pleasure.

P.S. ARE some people "size queens," in terms of preferring a wider or longer penis, either because it feels better for them or because they think there is some status in it? Yes, some people -- male and female alike -- are like that. But they're the minority: most people do NOT feel that way, nor do most people find that the size of someone's genitals alone makes any kind of sex enjoyable or not. No one is just being glib when they say that it ain't what you've got, but how you use it. :)

written 05 Oct 2007 . updated 01 Jan 2015

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