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Fat Vaginas

Interesting, the questions women have sometimes.

I was asked how a fat woman's vagina differs from a thin woman's. I thought, "What a great topic to write about!" Some of this might be TMI for those that know me. But, what the hey.

Pre-gastric bypass, I couldn't keep a tampon in. I had no idea it was because I was fat. I thought it was because I'd had three giant-sized children and was getting older (30). I peed with nearly every exertion, which, many times, was just bending over for something on the floor. I couldn't orgasm with anything but a vibrator for 20 years or so. I just thought I was "addicted" to orgasms that way. I knew my vagina was so horribly lax that giant-sized specs were needed to open it and even then, the walls drooped in, covering the view to the cervix. Embarrassed, I just kept kegeling my ass... er... vagina off. Nothing seemed to help.

I'd done a lot of vaginal exams pre-surgery, but never had any ah-ha moments or realizations that the size of the woman might have a corresponding geography in the nether regions.

When I had my gastric bypass, as I've said, I lost a LOT very fast. 100 pounds in 10 weeks... 190 pounds in a year. Within 6 months, I was having orgasms without the vibe (oral sex). I could FEEL so much more! Everything seemed... hmm... so... accessible! It was all right out there. No wonder women went without undies in jeans!

When I went for a Pap, I no longer needed the giant-sized speculum. A medium was perfectly fine. And lo and behold, my vaginal walls did not cave in on the spec, either.

Neither did I projectile my tampons with every cough anymore. (One of the MOST embarrassing moments for my kids was when I sneezed while swimming in a public pool and the tampon shot out like a champagne cork and floated to the surface. Eek!)

It took awhile and a lot of humility to understand that not only did I have fat all over my ass, my liver and my stomach, but also inside my vagina. No one ever told me that.

Once I realized this, I began feeling vaginas differently, watching what happened with speculums and talking about orgasms with fat women. Over and over, women who could kegel the circulation out of my fingers still had their vaginal walls cave in, surrounding the speculum during that portion of the exam.

All of that information is well and good, but what do healthcare providers do when they have a fat woman that needs her Pap done?

I learned to use a condom and keep them in our exam tables just in case. Take the speculum and roll the condom onto it. Using scissors cleaned with alcohol, cut the reservoir tip off the end of the condom that is now on the spec. Insert the spec as usual, but be prepared to have a LOT of resistance in opening the blades. It is worth it, though. The condom holds the walls back beautifully and the exam is able to be completed.

I let my clients know that I will be using a condom to assist - if they are over about 300 pounds as a matter of course. If I know their history of fat walls, they'll know I will be using one, but I remind the women anyway. Surprises suck when you're nekkid from the waist down.

Newer speculums do exist that hold the walls open, but I'm still in the speculum dark ages.

I know there is a movement to ask women if they want to insert the speculum themselves, but for fat women, it can be an uncomfortable question. I couldn't reach my clitoris at 350 pounds, much less the introitus of my vagina. I might say something when the woman is still sitting on the couch, perhaps while I am laying out the Chux and drape... something like... "Some women are more comfortable putting their own speculums in, so if you would rather do that, let me know when we get to that part of the exam. Otherwise, I'll just ask permission before I insert the speculum and we can go from there."

I asked my partner if she could tell a difference pre- and post-op and she said, "Absolutely!" (More TMI - sorry.) She isn't prone to exaggeration and was very honest about the difference she felt. I could absolutely understand what she was talking about after doing a variety of exams on fat and not-so-fat women.

I don't think discussing fat vaginas is really one of the required topics a doctor, nurse or midwife needs to do, but if you have a fat woman sitting in front of you who cannot orgasm easily or who can't wear a tampon... perhaps mention of fat vaginas is called for.

Do other practitioners talk about things like this?

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Reader Comments (78)

you're full of shit with the "loose bathingsuit" story. nice one, ms. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0104061jamesfrey1.html" REL="nofollow">frey. next time, think of something a little more plausible.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Obviously, you haven't ever been that fat and that poor.

May 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Interestingly, obesity runs in my family. I always thought I was 'lucky' to have gotten my daddies jeans (5'4, 115lbs).. but, after 5 children in 7 years, jumping 70lbs up and back down in a space of 9 months repeatedly, and being well out-of-shape (which is different than being, as you say, "fat") but small, i can tell you: my PC is tight, but my vagina is fluffy. Talking to my mom and grandma, they warn me to keep an eye on my vagina as it can preclude a major weight flux. This, strangly, has been the women in our families way of knowing when they should be more perceptive to their health issues - by listening to their vaginas. Womanly wisdom at best! Thank you again Navel!

May 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNicole D

I've pulled condoms off with my fat vagina.

May 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMamaRose

1) You know, anecdote is not the plural of data. I truly doubt you ever sneezed out a tampon due to "vaginal fatness. A

2) Unfortunatly, vaginoplasty already exists so women can get "prettier" vaginas. So what's next, vagina liposuction?!

3) I hope I never get a health care professional like you:

"Oh, you have X health problem? That's your fat vagina. Forget about thin women with X health problem. Definitely your fat vagina, you fatty fatty fatty fat disgusting person."

I'd rather be treated with respect and have, funnily enough, would prefer my health issues be diagnosed and treated according to the facts, not prejudice.

May 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Dearest late entry commenter, you might want to read my "Fat Angry Woman" post of a few days ago. Since writing it, I have gotten ZERO responses from any Fat Activist. It seems I *am* one of you all. You are behind the power curve. I am hardly saying anything negative. Too bad you read it that way.

May 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Can't we all just love our "unique, beautiful, fabulous vaginas"? Fat ones, thin ones, fluffy ones, toned ones, tampon shooting ones and even ones that leak a little when we really wish they didn't? I'm studying to be a midwife and I expect that I will see all sorts of unique, beautiful, fabulous vaginas and I will always remember that they are attached to unique, beautiful and fabulous women and provide care accordingly. I could never say it as beautifully as Eve Ensler so I will leave you all with her thoughts that we all to easily forget(those are also hers in the quote above).

"We forget the vagina, all of us
what else would explain
our lack of awe, our lack of wonder
The heart is capable of sacrifice.
So is the vagina.
The heart is able to forgive and repair.
It can change its shape to let us in.
It can expand to let us out.
So can the vagina.
It can ache for us and stretch for us, die for us and bleed and bleed us into this difficult, wondrous world.
So can the vagina."

The Vagina Monologues
I Was There In The Room
Eve Ensler

May 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMoongoddess

I came here from The Rotund and agree with everything Catrina said a few days ago.

I am fat, tight (no pregnancies) and have been very fortunately orgasmic from the age of 26. I do have one problem that I haven't seen addressed here: Ever since I gained weight, I have a problem with my labia creating a seal and most of my menstrual flow coming out in the wrong place for a normal pad. I don't use tampons because I find them uncomfortable. I end up using two pads to get enough coverage.

Not life-threatening or painful, just annoying.

May 11, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertwincats


Once again. I never said fat = loose. Never. Never. Never. Whomever heard that heard wrong. I didn't even say that when I talked about the tampon!

I also never ever said WLS cured/fixed/made anything perfect. I said MY life changed tremendously and it is MY TRUTH and I am allowed my truth. I am allowed to speak what happened to me because of WLS, but it doesn't mean my life is perfect or wonderful or I am a toothpick. Far from it. I'm not incontinent, but I am a size 18. I can't say that weight loss fixed my incontinence? Why not? It's my truth? It's many other women's truth! Just because it pisses you off doesn't mean it isn't true.

Anyway, go read my Fat Angry Woman post, please, before commenting here. It might put things in context a little more.

*writing another piece about this issue - it brings up so much!*

May 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Oh, Navelgazer...
I like when you gaze at your navel and write frankly about what you see there. You are right - we are kindred. It's difficult after years of fire storms real and in blogland to feel the iron bands around a hurting heart loosen at the sight of another using "voice" and blog to just tell it. We live in a fearful time a strangely pc time where speaking messy truths is frowned upon. I heard some of these wimmin (noverbally) saying to you: Shut the fuck up! Who do you think you are? Let's keep stuff hidden if it doesn't line up. Let's just keep putting on a brave face. Don't talk about mess. Don't be messy. There are party lines you are supposed to be following.

Navelgazer, you are a messy, real, confident (which, for the naysayers is really different than fucking being self-centered...internalized patriarchy reigns supreme and only men are supposed to speak their truths assertively without fear...wimmin must quake and hesistate and self doubt so that they can seem sufficiently humble, sufficiently subservient and submissive so that other may know that they are not a threat to their own domination...they're safe)...

You are trying to create space beyond theoretically based party lines that have been extremely useful for fatty wimmin trying to not be killed off by the fat phobia of others. We need(ed) to know that we were beautiful, that nothing was "wrong" with our bodies, that the clothing they made for us was insulting and uncomfortable, that their furniture hated our bodies...the list goes on. In short, they needed to know that they had developed a system of half-truths and out and out lies that harmed us, pathologized us and damaged our possibilities for safe passage through this world. We, not them, gave it a name - Fat phobia.

But the work couldn't stop there. See, we're human, actually collectively along with the weirdo thin people completely imperfect. We're messy. We ooze. We drip. We smell. We bulge. We rub and squish. We're animals, though those who dominate try to forget this fact and attempt to construct realities that say some people are more like animals than others.

That shit is messed up. They are messed up. Actually, we're all messed up.

Navelgazer. Your pooni was fat? Good on you for finding out. Your a midwife and you've encountered lots of fat poonis? Good on you for noticing and sharing what you've seen. Good on you for allowing what you've noticed about your body and the bodies of other wimmin to permeate your practice. Hugs and squeezes for being intelligent and not some sort of shut down medibot health care professional.

You're offering space not inviting obeisance. You even said it somewhere, the writing can serve as a place anyone who reads can fly off from. They don't have to stay where you are. Simpletons.

I'm tingling because the writing I've read over the years of my life have served as so many jump off points. I prefer to bungee jump, choosing only to fly occasionally. :) I've created myself out of explorations, questions, screams, meanderings written out and published by brave wimmin thinking and exposing things no one else ever thought to or had the balls...unh ovaries...to commit to paper or the screen.

You're brave in your vulnerability. Powerful. I feel the earth shake...in good ways...when you walk and gather and distribute what you find, what you know.

Amazon woman. There are too few left. Grow larger. Grow more powerFULL. Write more mess. Write more truths. Your voice(s) are smart wimmin. You've been listening to them. I can tell because some of the herd members are restless.

I used to gauge how bang on I was by how many people wrote in complaining. But now that I've mostly been ostracized...by the political ones who really know what time it is...I just use clustrmaps.

This is me saying that for the few who are here complaining about you saying something that perhaps few noticed, there are thousands reading who are thanking you for just trying, for just having the guts to try.

If it counts for anything, I think I have a fatty pooni, too. I remember one pap smear when I was in my twenties, when I was still a dyke, the woman asking if I'd had children because the spec was just sort of sagging out of my pooni. I giggled and said: No. But, I felt a little stigmatized for having a giant pooni. So, I can see why *some people* commenting here, might be having REACTIONS to what they're reading that might have more to do with their lived experiences and less to do with your observations. It's okay to have reactions. It's not okay to harm other people or make them feel like they shouldn't be speaking or writing because of it. Note to self: Talk more about my own reactions. Locate more buttons pushed by my own shit when this happpens...which is fairly common.

Just because some of you are upset, or feel vulnerable to fat phobia...we all are..., or just because Navelgazer may have written something that invites a broadening of our analysis of fat phobia, invites us to look at the reality of our fatty bodies inside and out doesn't make her the fucking anti-christ!

Navelgazer, I'm not one for drugs or medication. I always believed that drugs would disturb my relationship to my muses, my voices and that surgery would fuck up my insides and forever link me to the medicorp and force me to rely on them.

But, I need to tell you...
You are as sharp and brave and honest and unblunted a person as I have found. You are seeking. You are telling.

I don't know the meds you've mentioned. But they don't seem to have put a kink in your program one bit. This is cause for me to re-evaluate my political position and to perhaps think more in terms of continuums of medical intervention.

I can't say it enough: You just tell.

I've only told Papi that sometimes I think about lip for my pannus. I've felt guilty. Not strong enough. Not political enough. Not able to have my anti-fatphobia politic line up with my real life. I've felt haunted and conflicted.

I'm still on track to find ways to continue shifting and decolonizing my perceptions of beauty. My gaze is still infected with fat phobia. I yearn to fully love all of what's here. I've never dieted. I credit being in wimmin's community with having what affection I have developed for my body. It was always so affirming to be gazed on with affection and desire by other large, powerfull wimmin who shoke mama earth when they walked.

I have other voices and pieces who occupy space inside me who are not so politicized, not so interested in my bodily love program. I'd like to be able to give them space to speak what they've learned and felt about our body, too.

You had surgery and it felt right for you? You noticed an improvement in your quality of life? You're content with the sizeable fatty woman body you presently occupy? That is enough for me. I'm happy for you and I can see your contentment in your writing and in that wonderful, graceful, beautifully robed photo you published.

One last thing?
*People* need to pay close attention to what you wrote and what you didn't write. You talked about the existence of fatty poonis. You wrote about how best to take care of them. You wrote about the fact that you experienced a loss of erotic sensation.

I'm not convinced that the loss of sensation was about the fat. However, I think that we make do, meaning I've seen stuff written in various wimmin's erotica magazines either in on our backs or in Black lace, which was a black dyke mag I used to read (I'll have to check to make sure) which talks about positions fatty girls could use to increase sensation and pleasure. Now, this might be about the presence of fat or about where the fat is located. But nonetheless, I do remember wimmin writing in asking about positions they could use to maximize access and pleasure.

Navelgazer, you're not out to lunch. You're not fat phobic. I think you're super practical and as a medical health care provider, this comes through in the approaches you use.

I want to have more creative, confident midwives who utilize their own experience to build consciousness which transforms their ability to give care.

You done good.

May 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDark Daughta

Pre-gastric bypass, I couldn't keep a tampon in. I had no idea it was because I was fat. I thought it was because I'd had three giant-sized children and was getting older (30).

That is what you said and your words mean you couldn't keep a tampon in because you were fat. That your vagina was "horribly lax" because you were fat. That's what we are all reacting to.

May 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterThe Rotund

Has anyone seen this website about fat wimmin and pregnancy?


May 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDark Daughta

Oh boy. This post was a doozy. I see you upset a lot of fat women here.
The post itself didn't upset me, but your language and apparent tone in your replies to certain anonymous commenters was quite rude.
They are just stating their opinions, as you did. Be kind and respectful. That's what's needed in this blog-o-sphere.

June 9, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterthe doe

Doe: Thanks for sharing your opinion. I find it amusing. Thanks for making me smile.

June 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife


See, what *I* find we need on this "blog-o-sphere" is real talk, real words, real dialogue - not just people saying nice nice so everyone walks around feeling all Pollyanna-ish.

Have you read through ALL the posts that had to do with this post? Did you read the follow-up posts?

You want a sweet and squeaky clean blog - write and edit one.

Do not slip in here and read 5 posts and then try to tell me how to speak to people without understanding the complete story.

Although, you are welcome to your comments... which I did publish and comment back on.

After all, it is the blogosphere... and it is a dialogue... and perhaps we might even get to know each other and speak to each other in something besides patronizing tones.

It could happen.

June 11, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

In your experience, has a fat vagina ever played a negative factor in stage 2 labour?

June 19, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermamaloo


June 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Holy crap, I was right about why my tampons won't stay in right! Yet another reason to lose some freaking weight.

June 20, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersuperblondgirl

No woman wants to think of themselves as having a "fat" vagina. It's like a 300 pound woman thinking it is ok to be 300 pounds. I am only 165 pounds,little chunky,and i feel fat down there. I have had 2 c-sections. I can grab the fat down there. Is ther anything that i can do to lose the weight around my lady area??????

June 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I am fat (169 pounds) and I was desperately looking for information about vaginas because mine is too big and the mons pubis too. I also worry that my vagina entrance is not tight enough for a man to enjoy sex with me, let alone myself. I so disagree with the angry comments because they sound like those women take everything too seriously in a bad way, and also put it like being fat is OK, when it is not. I don't see where this post was offensive, it is just the relaity. And for those fat women who felt offended because they supposedly don't have fat vaginas: then don't take it as to be targeted by this comment, that's it, simple. I wish I could get more information about what to do to imrpove the appearance and functionality of my vagina. I am not sure if what you said- that by loosing weight the loose vagina problem will solve the problem- is right. I don't think it is just a matter of loosing weight, I'm afraid (and I hope I find more scientifically reliable information proving that loosing weight will improve my vagina (tightness, appearance, etc) Thank you, and please give me more information!!

September 23, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm significantly overweight and I do not wear tampons because even the small ones feel HUGE. If anything I have trouble with tampons getting stuck rather than falling out. I've also never had any trouble with orgasms either. At least not after I learned how. I've only recently had problems with incontinence but I am pushing 40 and according to my doctor this is common among all women, not just obese women. I cannot comprehend how the vaginal entry, excuse me for being crass, or the "hole" can somehow physically widen because of weight gain. This just does not make sense to me. The part about needing a larger speculum makes sense because of the excess folds, but to actually claim that the vagina becomes looser due to body fat? Why? Specifically how does fat pry open the vagina? Child birth stresses the elasticity of the vagina and can eventually cause looseness but with body fat what is causing the stretching? How does body fat put stress on the vagina's elasticity? I mean I have seen some pretty skinny women performing in pornography and you want to talk about gaping! I've heard men speaking candidly on this issue and from their sexual perspective thinness seems to have no bearing on vaginal tightness. (For example a man who is turned off to fat chicks is going claim that a fat woman's vagina is loose or gross, etc. while a man who is attracted to a heavy set woman will claim the opposite.) This just reads like another "Ha ha! You're fat!" article enrobed in that "concern for one's health" disguise. I'm pleased that you lost weight and are healthier and enjoying a better sex life but maybe the sex improved because your overall health improved. I know when I exercise and eat right I feel better and more interested in sex.

December 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

For the 50,000 time, I NEVER said the vagina was looser because of being fat. NEVER.

What I *said* was there was a lot of fat in MY vagina and that fat pushed the tampons out. By coughing, it gather the fat and pressed it down to shoot the tampon out.

Egads, I wish people would read this post correctly. And I even *clarified* when they didn't. How come some people read it right and others can't seem to understand what I said? If *everyone* got it wrong, I would say it was my own writing, but it isn't everyone. It's only those that decide from the outset that I am the Devil incarnate.

Read it again.

December 10, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Sorry to post on an older blog, but I just wanted to tell you: You worded it just fine. People seem to WANT to be offended. The word "fat" seems to be offensive to a lot of women no matter what context. I'm a fat chick, have been since I was a kid. I am 260 right now, and 5'4 and 9months along (pop out of there already baby!). I've gained 20 lbs with this one, just like I did with my son. I think it's funny how this has been recieved and even funnier that one poster stated they were offended until they realized you were "still fat". Then it was okay... Why is it okay for fat lady to state what she has seen but not a thin one?

Oh well. Good post though, and I'm glad your medical circle has seen it too. I myself have only experianced needing a size up from my dr's first choice speculum and slight incontinance during this pregnancy, but that is just MY experiance. I never once heard you trying to clasify all women or trying to push gastric on anyone. I think the women who are saying you classified all fat women are themselves trying to classify women to THEIR experiance...

January 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer D

Wow....I never thought that my weight could cause a problem with putting a tampon on...I've been embarrased that I havent been able to use them even tho every other girl I know can. Thank you...I just happened onto yout blog, and now I am so glad I did. Thanks again, I fell somewhat better now, and now I have another reason to stay on this diet...:D

February 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBliss

In think overgeneralizing is the word that should be taught with this post.

I am a fat woman, have NO problems at all wearing tampons, with incontinence, have a pap done or reaching my clitoris or vaginal opening.

Maybe this was the difference between YOUR fat vagina and thin vaginas it certainly does not hold true in all cases.

April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGoddessNoir

Yeah, I know that.

April 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I realize this is an older post, but I just read it. Anyway, I am fat--300--and am currently trying to conceive. If/when I do manage to get pregnant, is dystocia (fat dystocia) something I need to worry about? I would like to have a natural delivery but worry about having an episiotomy done just because I've got a fat vagina.

May 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I wonder if the problem is really not fat, but more pelvic pressure from abdominal fat - like you would feel during pregnancy. I am not a large woman at all - but I do carry about 25 lbs more than I did when I was younger and most of it's around my middle. I'm an "apple".
I have some bladder frequency issues and have been diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction. My vagina is TOO tight - but I can have problems with tampons as well when there is any sort of pressure - ie bowel movements, extreme sneezing/coughing. I def think the pressure/weight of my belly is contributing to the problem.

It is sad how health care workers can ignore "fat" people and not give the care they should. We have recently experienced that in my family - a cancer that might have been caught ignored and assumed to be the "usual" weight/diet related problems.

October 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

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