Do you have a vagina? If you do, you’ve likely heard old tales about how to keep it “clean” or “tighten” it. Or you’ve been warned that a partner will be able to tell how many people you’ve had sex with by looking at its shape.
Over the past year we have come across several viral social media posts that make claims about vaginal health. These claims, previously shared in hushed whispers, can now reach hundreds of thousands of people – some young and impressionable. They spread shame, stigma and, in some cases, could cause physical harm. We spoke to two gynaecologists about some of the most common and dangerous myths about the vagina shared online.
Does sex change the size and tightness of a vagina? Is labia size linked to sexual history? Can herbal and vinegar baths be used to clean and tighten vaginas? And can you test for virginity? We have the answers.
MYTH 1: Multiple sexual partners can change the vagina’s size and tightness
Can sex change the size and tightness of a vagina? Several online posts make this claim.
A viral Facebook message shared more than 3,500 times says that while penises remain unaffected by sex with multiple partners, the “shape, tightness, and looks” of vaginas are permanently changed by sex.
“You will then go around saying so and so has a small??? dick, forgetting that you have a stadium between your legs? and one man can never fill up the whole stadium,” the message reads. But Dr Denise Armatas, a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, says there is no basis to this claim. She told Africa Check that while vaginas widen during sexual intercourse to accommodate a penis they usually go back to their normal size within an hour. She said two processes may alter vaginal tightness and size more permanently. These are menopause, during which the drop in estrogen can lead to vaginal muscles becoming less firm, and childbirth.
“If you have more children your vagina might become less tight because of the muscle damage and it’s more prone to having natural prolapse,” she explained. Vaginal prolapse is a condition here the vagina moves from its normal location in the body.
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.