When you get pregnant your body goes through all kinds of changes. They’re certainly not all fun and games, but most of them won’t come as a huge surprise; a huge belly, mood swings, and morning sickness are often part and parcel. On the other hand, there are changes you might not be expecting if you’re pregnant for the first time. For instance, a lot of women find themselves wondering if it’s normal for their vaginas to get tighter when pregnant.
The answer is yes: it is totally normal. Having said that, for some women it can go the opposite way, because the increased vaginal fluids might lead to a feeling of extra elasticity… but if you’re finding that your birth canal feels tighter than usual, it’s nothing to worry about. To put your mind at ease, let’s take a look into the nuts and bolts of vaginal tightness during pregnancy:
Why does your vagina feel tighter when pregnant?
When you’re pregnant and your belly is expanding rapidly, something has got to give. Although the size of your vagina won’t actually change, it can certainly feel tighter when pregnant. That’s often because increased blood flow to the vagina.
Expecting mothers will have a blood volume increase of around 20%, which (as you might imagine) is going to cause some degree of swelling. All this extra blood rushing around your system can cause your mucus membranes to increase too, and the vagina is no exception. Swelling is the result and when the vaginal walls swell, the birth canal will feel smaller. This is one of the main reasons you get tighter when pregnant, but there are more…
Your mind can also make your vagina feel tighter during pregnancy
It sounds strange, but it’s true. Our muscles and tissues respond to our thoughts, which is evidenced in stress-related muscle tension. When you get angry, you clench your jaw or fists involuntarily. When you get anxious, you can carry that anxiety all over your physical body – including the pelvic floor muscles. This too can result in you feeling tighter when pregnant.
So if you’re carrying a baby, the unfamiliar pregnancy hormones and the physical strain your body is under can make you feel emotionally stressed at times. The condition vaginismus is another example; anxiety about penetration causes the vaginal muscles to constrict. Therefore it makes sense that feelings of tightness during pregnancy could also be (perhaps in part) due to stress, and especially if pregnancy gives you concerns around sex. Sex when pregnant may feel quite different, emotionally and physically. If you feel hesitant for any reason and are not properly aroused, this too may result in feelings of tightness.
The bottom line is if you feel tighter when pregnant, nothing is wrong. Your vagina hasn’t shrunk and you will still be able to have sex if you wish. You may notice changes in tightness at different stages of your pregnancy, but eventually (after birth and recovery) things will return to normal once again.