We all know that aging is a part of a life, and although it’s something everyone should plan for, it’s nothing to fear. But although women fully anticipate and prepare for crow’s feet, osteoporosis, and diminishing breast-perkiness, we don’t spend enough time talking about how our vaginas change as we get older. And we should. Because guess what? They definitely will.
Now, you probably already know that, should you choose to experience pregnancy and childbirth, you can expect some stretching and possibly tearing of your vaginal canal and your vaginal opening. But you should also know that even if you never give birth, your vaginal canal (the inside of your vagina) and your vulva (the outer parts of your vaginal region, e.g. your labia, clitoris and pubic mound) are going to age just like the rest of you. Years of sexual activity, hormonal changes, weight fluctuations, and high-impact workouts alone will have a clear effect on the health and appearance of your vagina, vulva, and your pelvic floor. (The muscles, tendons, and tissue that support your reproductive organs.)
I know it’s not exactly fun to think about all the ways you’re going to change down there,but it’s important to be aware of them so you can start taking the necessary steps to keep your vagina happy, healthy, and functional regardless of your age. Here are five ways you can expect your vagina to change as you get older, and what you can do about it.
1. Your pubic hair will start to look different
One of the most obvious ways your vaginal area will change is in regards to your pubes. Just like with the hair on your head, as you grow older, the hair on your pubic region will begin to thin out and turn grey — especially after menopause. Fortunately, this means the hair on your legs and underarms will thin out too, so shaving will become less and less of an ordeal. Unfortunately, if you’re particularly attached to your pubic hair, there’s really not a whole lot you can do to keep from losing it.
2. Your Vulva will lose it’s fullness.
As we age, our vulvas sort of shrink. It’s a perfectly normal process, and nothing to worry about, but you should be prepared for it so you’re not blindsided when it happens. According to Women’s Health, you can potentially notice your labia majora (your outer “lips”) shrinking down as early as your 20’s due to the normal loss of subcutaneous fat (a fat layer that lies just beneath your skin), which occurs naturally as you age. But you probably won’t notice significant slimming of your vulva and labia until you’re in your 40’s or 50’s.
3. Increased dryness is inevitable.
Loss of estrogen really just screws everything up, including your vagina’s moisture levels, the length of your vaginal canal, and the thickness of your vaginal walls. Additionally, when your moisture levels drop, it could lead to itchiness and irritation. However, regular sex actually helps with this problem (assuming you’re enjoying it). In addition, moisturizing vaginal washes and unscented lubricants can help make sex, exercising, and everyday life more comfortable for you and your vagina.
4. Your labia minora will darken.
Changing hormone levels can cause your labia minora (your “inner lips”) to darken in color as you grow older. Once again, this is totally normal, and nothing to freak out about it.
5. Stretching and prolapse are a possibility.
Like I said above, we’re all aware that giving birth vaginally will result in some major stretching. But if you want kids, you should also take steps to prevent or at least decrease the severity of prolapse, especially if you plan to have multiple children. Prolapse happens when organs start to slip out of place due to weakened pelvic floor muscles, and it’s most common in women with lots of biological children and women who are smokers.
Your best bet to fight prolapse is to do lots and lots of kegels like, three sets of 100 a day. If that sounds like too much hard work, don’t despair. Orgasming is the ultimate kegel, so now you have one more good reason to whip out your vibrator. Also, you can actually do kegels while you’re having sex (which has the added bonus of making things feel even more intense).
Bottom line, Like the rest of you, your vagina is going to age. That’s a scientific fact, but it’s really nothing to worry about. All you have to do is appreciate it, take care of it, keep it active, and not freak out when things start to change down there. Because that’s exactly what’s supposed to happen.