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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:


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. Lord knows what we'd find in our vaginas at the end of a day at the beach!

Certainly, not every woman has the same body composition per genetics, so we're 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."

Can some things change -- permanently -- the width of our vaginas? A couple. (Kind of.) With age -- not sexual experience -- that muscle tone can decrease slightly, but not usually dramatically, especially before menopause. For instance, women at 40 who have had plenty of sexual partners can generally use the same tampon sizes they used before, 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. Thank goodness!

It doesn't happen because, again, the vagina is a muscle that strongly holds what is within it. Even for older women, or for women 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 a good 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.

There's no sense in my not being candid when it's helpful, so to give you a living example, when you get a diaphragm, your healthcare provider does a measurement of the width of your vagina, to find out what the right size is for you. There is a decent enough range of diaphragm sizes -- a difference from the smallest to largest of around two inches. I got fitted for one for birth control backup at the end of high school, and it's my method of choice combined with condoms of the last few years, so I still get fitted now regularly.

I am 37 years old, I have had more sexual partners for all kinds of genital sex -- including vaginal sex with hands larger than any penis I've encountered - than most of my other friends my age, and I now wear a diaphragm one size larger, just five millimeters, than the one I had in college, but a) that's likely due to having been pregnant for a short period of time and terminated and b) at my age, we'd expect to start to see some small changes to my anatomy. And five millimeters? Ain't nobody going to feel that kind of a change, not me nor my partners. See what I mean? I don't mean to be crass, but if someone's vagina was going to be all stretched out by lots of sex, it'd be mine, I assure you. :)

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 women become sexually aroused, the vagina and the vaginal opening DO relax and loosen, and do widen. But that's not permanent: when we're not aroused anymore, our vaginas look the same as they did before again.

Long story short? Intercourse cannot change a woman's vagina, 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 for 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.

Here comes the delicate part, because it's obviously tricky to talk about genital sizes without someone winding up feeling bad. It's particularly tricky to talk about penis size because so many men are so bent out of shape about it.

Unlike vaginas, the size of a man's penis isn't as adaptable. 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.

Now, I can't know how you're measuring, but 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 nowhere near average or even near the realm of normal. 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 sensation or much sensation during intercourse. I have tiny hands, and the circumference of my pinky finger is larger than that, and you can be sure it's not going to feel like much of anything if I try and have intercourse with it -- especially once I become aroused and my vagina loosens up during that arousal -- no matter how many partners I've had for intercourse or what their sizes were. 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 width match. For women, once you get past the first inch or two of the vagina, there aren't sensory nerve endings back there, so what you feel during intercourse that isn't just what you feel around the opening and front of the vagina will be about the pressure to the internal clitoris and what surrounds the vagina. 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 men and women both, everyone also has different curves, and doesn't fit together exactly the same. 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.

With men, too, you have the issue or circumcision or not. Uncircumcised men, because they have a foreskin, are aforded a bit more friction and texture than those who have been circumcised. (That also often feels different for women.) 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: for some men with smaller (or more accurately, thinner penises), they or their female partners may not feel as much sensation as they'd like with intercourse, because a very small or thin penis won't create a lot of friction or that feeling of fullness and pressure I was telling you about earlier. But there really is no reason for that to be some huge deal: that just means that for those couples, they might want to focus more on sexual activities with more targeted sensation, like oral or manual sex. Because vaginal intercourse isn't really so targeted for either men or women, period, it's normal for ANY man or woman, no matter the size of genitals, to feel like intercourse is a little more floaty and nonspecific than they'd like or need when it comes to getting off. Again, that's no big whoop: no one ever decreed that somehow any one sexual activity was supposed to be everyone's favorite (and if anyone does, they're either uninformed or they have some sort of agenda), 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 22 Aug 2014

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