A Primer on What Sex Does (And Doesn't) Do To Your Vagina and ButtholeS

You can't judge a book by its cover, and you can't judge a woman's sexual activity by one look at her vag or butthole. But if you ever wondered exactly how misinformed people are about vaginas and buttholes and what they do and do not do during or after or because of sex and/or childbirth, look no further than this tweet from Teen Mom/newly minted porn star Farrah Abraham, who joked, " I can't believe the one time I have sex in the past year has turned in to this ‪#UNREAL," only to land on the receiving end of a flurry of comments indicating that, basically, there was no way on earth she hadn't been fucking someone or something the last year, as evidenced from the hefty gape of her vagina and anus. ZOMG.

First of all, I haven't seen the James Deen/Farrah Abraham sex tape, but I've seen some clips and some of the Twitter comments linked to screenshots meant to serve as evidence of her "whorish" size down below. Mostly, though, it's comments like this:

It goes on, not just as a spectacle of slut-shaming, not just as proof of how often it's (sadly) women policing other women about their sexual activity, but of proof that no one has any idea how vaginas or buttholes work. Vaginas and rectums are designed to expand and contract! You do not get loose from fucking in your vagina or your anus as a general rule! Muscles don't atrophy from USING THEM! Sigh. Nonetheless, let's explore these holes one at a time.

YOUR VAGINA

Hello, vagina, you are full of many things, but perhaps most of all, myths-a-plenty about how you work. This enlightening piece over at Psychology Today breaks down the four most common myths about your vag when it comes to sex:

  • VIRGIN VAGINA IS SUPER TIGHT
  • DEFLOWERING MAKES YOU LOOSER
  • WHORING AROUND MAKES YOU SUPER LOOSE
  • CHILDBIRTH MAKES YOUR VAG LOOSE FOREVER

The truth is, a vagina is elastic, and it has "tightly folded muscle" like an accordion. As Michael Castleman, who's penned multiple books on the physiology of sex, writes:

Try this: Pull the corners of your mouth out toward your ears then let go. What happens? The mouth immediately snaps back to its pre-stretched state because the tissue is elastic. Do it 100 times. There's no permanent stretching. The mouth quickly returns to its pre-stretched state and no one would ever know you'd stretched it.

The same goes for the vagina, with two exceptions I'll discuss shortly. When it's at rest–all the time except sexual arousal and childbirth–the vagina's muscle tissue remains tightly folded like a closed accordion. Anxiety makes the vaginal musculature clench even tighter. That's why young girls sometimes have problems inserting tampons. Their vaginal muscle tissue is tight and contracted to begin with, and many girls feel anxious about touching themselves and inserting anything, so the muscles contract even tighter.

Sexual arousal/relaxation is what loosens those muscles so you can receive the peen/fingers/dildo you so desire. But still, when this happens, Castleman explains, it doesn't make a "big open cavity" like a loose sock or an empty potato chip bag, dumdums. There is no possibility for the aforementioned "hotdog in the hallway," AKA "bee bee in the boxcar" scenario, as funny to imagine as that may be.

A locked up, squeezed up, shut-down vagina is a tense, non-aroused one, not a virginal one. Sure, virgins may be less comfortable with their bodies or sexuality (MAYBE! NOT ALWAYS) in ways that make intercourse more tentative due to inexperience, but usually, the reason a vag is not good and ready to take a dick is because it hasn't been made to feel that way. It doesn't want to. (In fact, extreme tightness is more likely to be vaginismus, not virginity.)

So I suppose if Farrah Abraham's vag looks loose to you, it's because she was relaxed, sexually aroused, and game for some action, which would make sense because she WAS FILMING A PORNO. The only gaping hole here, per the usual, is the Internet's stupid slackjawed face. Because the thing is people, after opening up for sex, your vagina goes back. It GOES BACK! Usually.

Castleman:

…vaginal muscle tissue naturally contracts–tightens–again. Intercourse does NOT permanently stretch the vagina. This process, loosening during arousal and tightening afterward, happens no matter how often the woman has sex.

The vagina stretches a great deal during childbirth, like an accordion opened all the way. Post-partum does it re-tighten completely? Yes, usually, at least in young women, that is, women in their late teens and early twenties. Within six months after delivery, the typical young woman's vagina feels pretty much how it was before she gave birth.

So you can't fuck yourself loose, people, sorry to say. You can't fuck yourself loose. There are exceptions as to the permanence of elasticity for the vagina, of course, to say nothing of individual spectrum of experience.

If you stretch elastic a great deal, over time, it fatigues and no longer snaps back entirely. That can happen to the vaginas of young women after multiple births. Their vaginal muscles fatigue and no longer fully contract. In addition, aging fatigues vaginal muscle. Whether or not women have given birth, as they grow older, they may complain of looseness.

Today, many woman delay childbearing until after 30, and some have children after 40. Combine the rigors of older childbearing with the effects of aging on the vaginal muscles, and many women complain of looseness. Women who give birth after around 30 may notice persistent looseness after delivering only one child. Individual differences account for the fact that birth- and age-related looseness happens to some women and not others.

So basically, save your old whore jokes for ACTUAL old whores, OK? Not 21-year-olds with one baby who haven't had the sheer time to lose negligible elasticity to that extent. (Kidding! Please stop shaming women's bodies.)

YOUR BUTTHOLE

Now let's talk about your butthole. Your butthole is also made of muscles, in this case, ones that constrict and relax to control/eliminate waste. Google questions about what the risks are for anal sex (aside from STDs), and most people want to know one thing:

"Do ppl who have alot of anal sex get loose buttholes?"

No, the answer is no. The general wisdom here is that regular anal sex (which is on the rise in hetero couples) does not make your butthole loose. This informative site for gay teens explains that anal incontinence as a result of anal sex is not likely:

Despite a lot of people's fears, having anal sex will not lead to an enlarged or loose sphincter or anus or a loss of bowel control. Some people actually believe that regular anal sex actually gives people better bowel control. According to author Tristan Taormino this can occur because, "In order to take something inside your rectum, you have to learn how to relax your sphincter muscles. The more you practice controlling these muscles, the more you are exercising and toning them (just like any other muscle). You are not stretching out or loosening the sphincter muscles, you are simply relaxing them to allow penetration."

This roundup of anal sex myths chimes in, arguing that:

Many women fear that anal sex will cause hemorrhoids, fissures or tears. Some even fear that they may become incontinent and spend the rest of their lives in adult diapers. Pleasurable anal sex does not cause harm to your anus or rectum. And as long as your partner does not have a sexually transmitted infection, neither semen nor sperm are harmful to your rectum.

The key word here is "pleasurable." It doesn't mean there's no chance for tearing or injury when having regular anal sex if you're rough and careless about it. Painful anal sex, or the use of large objects on a regular basis — extreme, rough play you may see commonly in porn – is another matter. This is why it's so important for regular old non-porn stars to use lubrication and take your time to relax the muscles, because your rectum doesn't self-lubricate. This Salon piece reiterates that info, indicating no large-scale studies have been done to find anal incontinence to be a significant issue.

From Salon:

So, whence did this myth arise? There have been two studies to report a marginal risk of incontinence from repeated anal sex — but one included passing gas in its definition of incontinence, and the other used subjects who had experienced serious anal trauma (either through assault or unsafe sex of the sort that Glickman mentioned earlier). More reliably, a 1997 study found no higher incidence of fecal incontinence in gay men who bottom and nonreceptive hetero dudes (a control group — what a concept!)

In conclusion, aside from real actual risks like STDs and unwanted pregnancies, the major issue with using your vagina or anus for sex is not loose anything. In fact, chronic pain is more likely, and thought to be experienced vaginally in 9% of women, and perhaps in 10 to 15% of women who have anal sex.

Besides, penises have impacted our world enough as it is — let's not grant them magical orifice-loosening powers they don't actually possess. Looseness as a problem, or a thing used as "proof" of women's whorishness, has a convenient function: Policing female behavior, putting all the onus of male sexual pleasure on a woman's body, and particularly, on aspects of her body she can't control — always fun. Plus, it gets us all scrutinizing everything but the more likely culprit of what makes sex feel loose in the first place in any hole: a small dick.