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Updated: MARCH 2, 2020

Tenting is a term to describe many of the changes that occur in a woman’s vagina when she becomes aroused. These changes help prepare the female body for penetration.

Tenting should not be confused with the slang term for the tent-like shape that an erection makes in a man’s pants. Tenting is also known as the tenting effect.


More About Tenting

Ordinarily the vagina appears as a collapsed tube, with walls that touch one another. When a woman becomes aroused, two-thirds of the vagina grows longer and wider. This creates a tent-like shape which makes space for a man’s penis. The cervix also contracts and the production of natural lubrication increases. The parts of the brain responsible for processing anxiety and fear also begin to relax.

Tenting helps make sexual intercourse easier. When tenting occurs, space is made inside the vagina for a penis. This space can also accommodate a finger or a penetrative sex toy, like a vibrator or dildo. A man should not attempt to insert his penis before tenting has occurred. Otherwise sex can become uncomfortable or even painful for both parties.

The time it takes a woman to achieve tenting varies from woman to woman, and from sexual encounter to sexual encounter. Not tenting does not necessarily mean the woman is not aroused. It just may take longer for her body to respond in the way necessary for pleasurable sexual activity. Health experts encourage partners to be patient and learn more about the stages of female arousal, including tenting, to make sex easier and more satisfying.

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