Vaginal laxity is a very real problem and affects thousands of women worldwide. An increasing number of these women are having the confidence to speak out about the issue and discuss its effect on their sexual health and wellbeing.
As with visible skin, vaginal tissue is supported and strengthened by the natural presence of collagen and elastin. Part of the natural aging process makes collagen levels decrease, which is why older people often have wrinkles across their skin. This is no different for the vagina and as part of the ageing process, it is not uncommon for women to experience reduced vaginal tightness. Alongside this, some women experience atrophic vaginitis, characterised by a drier, less elastic vagina which can result in itchiness and pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse.
A young mother with an uncomplicated vaginal delivery will usually recover vaginal tightness within the first 6 months of having her first child. Whereas women having children later in life multiple vaginal births, or suffering a significant injury during childbirth, are at a greater risk of experiencing chronic vaginal laxity that lasts beyond the first 6-12 months.
63% of women report a reduction in sensation during sexual intercourse after childbirth. This is due to the loss of elasticity around the introitus tissue at the opening of the vagina. A lack of friction at the point of entry reduces stimulation to the clitoris and as a result effects the ability of a woman to orgasm as easily as she may have done before childbirth.
Laxity caused by either child birth or ageing often gives rise to incontinence due to a weakened pelvic floor that’s supporting the natural position of the bladder and urethra.
Women who suffer from mild stress incontinence are often advised to build strength in their pelvic floor muscles to regain control of their urination. This muscle is responsible for supporting the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. With regular practice, Kegel exercise can help to strengthen this muscle group and is a good way to prevent urinary incontinence. However, they often do little to address a loss of elasticity that contributes to vaginal laxity, which is equally important in controlling incontinence.
To maintain urethral continence, it is important that a woman has both the strength in the pelvic floor and vaginal tightness, otherwise it is common for anatomical position of the bladder neck and proximal urethra to shift, which can lead to incontinence. Therefore, it may be necessary to seek a solution greater than Kegel exercises if you are experiencing prolonged problems.