Vagina Shrink Creams: Why You Should Avoid Them Like the Plague

Published: AUGUST 20, 2013 | Updated: SEPTEMBER 16, 2013
Vaginas don't get "loose" or "saggy," and creams that claim to "shrink" them do way more harm than good.
Among the novelty products that make me the angriest, vagina shrink creams generally sit in the top three, sharing space with things like desensitizing gel for anal sex (it's dangerous) and jelly rubber (it's loaded with phthalates).

There are a lot of reasons why vagina shrink creams make me so furious: the way they work and the ingredients they frequently include are quite bad for the vaginal tissues, they rely on ignorance and misinformation, they propagate the idea that vaginas get loose as you age or if you engage in "promiscuous" activities and, worst of all, they prey on the insecurities borne of this misinformation.

You heard me right: Vaginas do not get "loose" or "saggy" as the person in possession of said vagina ages or if they engage in "too much" penetrative intercourse. It's a myth. Here's we'll take a look at how vaginas really work - and why they don't need a shrink cream at all.

Vaginas 101

So here's the truth: In its relaxed state, the vagina is an elastic tube of fibromuscular tissue that’s part of a somewhat complex set of muscles and organs. The vagina changes form and texture depending on a few different factors, mainly mood and level of arousal. When "at rest" the vagina is generally tighter, and sort of scrunched up inside. Sometimes it is soft, but usually it’s more firm, depending on stress and anxiety levels. When aroused, the vagina softens, opens, and elongates, sometimes doubling in size. It's almost like the opposite of what happens to a penis when it becomes erect. Neat, huh? (Learn more illuminating facts about your lady bits in 10 Things You Don't Know About Vaginas.)

When a person is anxious, upset, or stressed out, the vagina will generally not elongate; it will remain firm, and in some conditions, clamp shut, not allowing anything to enter without incredible pain. This clamping is accomplished by the pubococcygeus, or PC, muscle (also known as the "Kegels"), which is a strip of tissue that runs from the front of the pelvis to the tip of the tail bone, encircling the urethra and anus as well as the vaginal canal. This is the muscle that you squeeze with during intercourse; it’s what helps you relax the anal sphincters for anal penetration; it also controls the flow of urine, aids in vaginal birth, and is the muscle that convulses during orgasm. A strong, healthy PC muscle helps prevent incontinence and may lead to easier, stronger orgasms as well as easier vaginal birth. (Learn more about what Kegels can do for your love life in For Better Sex, Flex This Muscle.)

Clearly, those Kegels matter - and not just to your sex life. They're important here too because the only time anything akin to a "loose" vagina occurs when the PC muscles are weak, which can occur after giving birth, if they don't get enough exercise or as a result of other conditions. The only way to actually "tighten" a vagina is by exercising the PC muscles. This might increase muscle tone but, of course, this has nothing to do with the actual tightness of the vagina so much as how strongly the vaginal muscles can contract.

The Big Vagina Myth You Shouldn't Buy Into

Contrary to what the ads for vagina shrink creams might have you believe, a "tight" vagina is not such a good thing. A vagina that's tight suggests a person under stress, a person who is anxious or a person who is traumatized. That isn't exactly sexy. A soft, relaxed vagina, on the other hand, is a sign of arousal and comfort. This may be what led to the idea that virgins have "tight" vaginas: they're nervous!

The point is that all this tightening and loosening is generally temporary, because the vaginal tissue is elastic. It's kind of like using your hands to stretch you face into a funny shape. Once you let go, it snaps right back.

Why You Don't Need a Cream

Now, on to vagina shrink creams. They claim to tighten a loose vagina. Riiiight. What they actually do is use their main ingredient, alum, to dry out the tissue inside of the vagina to increase friction during penetrative intercourse. If this sounds like a bad (and uncomfortable) idea, you'd be right. It's damaging because drying out the delicate mucous membranes that make up the vaginal canal leads to irritation, and can even increase the risk of STI transmission. Ugh. This definitely isn't a product that was designed with the user's health in mind.

The bottom line: Vagina shrink creams rely on misinformation. They prey on the insecurities women have about their bodies. That's not cool. Can you have a healthier, happier, vagina that's able to produce more pleasure. Maybe you can. But the only way to get it is to live a healthy life, eat well, exercise, have sex, masturbate and learn more about your body. A few Kegel exercises can't hurt either. And before you buy something the promises to make you "better," do some research. Chances are you (and your vagina) are just fine the way you are. (Don't believe me? Read Your Vagina Isn't Ugly, It Just Looks That Way.)
Caitlin Murphy

Caitlin began their sex education experience when they received an email in reply to the resume they posted on Craigslist asking if they'd be interested in an interview at an adult store. Though they had never been in an Adult Store at this point in their life, they needed a job and figured "Why not?"

This was ostensibly the moment in which their life changed.

Now more than a year on,...

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