With aging, an entire bandwagon of changes appear in your body, Wrinkles, graying hair, memory loss are some of the primary and most evident ones. However, your vagina also embarks on a journey of aging-related changes. The only good thing about theses changes is that you would be the only one aware of them. This doesn’t belittle the fact that some of these changes could be downright annoying or painful.
Awareness about what to expect when your body is pre-menopausal or has already attained menopause can help you stay on top the game. Check out the 5 major changes that happen to your vagina with age.
1. Pelvic Organ Prolapse
As age increases, a generalized loss of elasticity happens. When the muscle fibers and supporting structures around the uterus lose elasticity, it slowly descends closer to the vagina. This condition is known as prolapse and can range from mild to moderate. It affects at least one-third of all women, worldwide.1
For mild prolapse, practicing Kegel exercises will help strengthen the pelvic floor. If you feel an increase in pressure or pain in the lower abdominal region, or that something is about fall out of your vagina, it’s best to consult a gynecologist immediately.
2. Loss Of Youthful Appearance
As you age, your skin loses elasticity, and wrinkles become more pronounced. With increasing age, your vagina loses its plumpness and elasticity. This is due to a dip in estrogen levels, which causes the vaginal walls to be dry and inflamed.
Also known as vulvovaginal atrophy, or VVR, this condition along with the graying pubic hair and deepened wrinkles might dishearten many women.2Sexual arousal can keep the atrophy in check. Oral and topical estrogen therapy combined with a vaginal moisturizer can help too, but for that, consult a doctor first.
3. Narrowing Of The Vagina
The human body shrinks with age, although not rapidly but steadily from the time you hit 30. As estrogen levels are falling, the uterus also decreases in size. This makes the entrance of the vagina narrower and smaller than what it used to be in your childbearing years.
Many women experience irritation, dryness, and atrophic vaginitis (marked by inflammation of the vagina) when the narrowing progresses. It is best to consult a gynecologist before the conditions worsen and you experience pain and bleeding.3
4. Leaky Urine
One of the most annoying changes that happen as age increases is urinary incontinence. With the loss of strength in the musculature supporting the pelvic floor, the urinary bladder and urethra descend. When this happens, even minor stresses like sneezing, coughing, laughing can lead to leaking.4
Many women dread this condition and often cut down on their traveling plans and socializing events. This shouldn’t become a life sentence and discourage you from living life fully. Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor and with the help of a doctor, specialized treatment can bring relief for incontinence.
5. Increased Chances Of UTIs
The delicate and dehydrated vaginal tissue is just perfect for micro-organisms to breed. Many women ignore the symptoms of a urinary tract infection that could lead to renal infection if left untreated.5
If you experience burning sensation while peeing, pain in the lower abdomen, excess discharge and pungent odor, seek medical help immediately.
The bottom line is not to anticipate these changes and get worked up. Become a fan of Kegels, eat healthy, stay active, maintain body hygiene and use comfy cotton underwear. Don’t sacrifice some quality TLC time in between the sheets because that will help your vagina age gracefully and also leave you in jolly good spirits.
|↑1||The Lancet 369, no. 9566 (2007): 1027-1038.|
|↑2||Mac Bride, Maire B., Deborah J. Rhodes, and Lynne T. Shuster. “Vulvovaginal atrophy.” In Mayo Clinic Proceedings, vol. 85, no. 1, pp. 87-94. Elsevier, 2010.|
|↑3||Castelo-Branco, Camil, Maria Jesús Cancelo, Jose Villero, Francisco Nohales, and Maria Dolores Juliá. “Management of post-menopausal vaginal atrophy and atrophic vaginitis.” Maturitas 52 (2005): 46-52.|
|↑4||Nygaard, I., Thom, D. and Calhoun, E., 2004. Urinary incontinence in women. Urologic diseases in America, pp.69-103.|
|↑5||Foxman, Betsy. “Epidemiology of urinary tract infections: incidence, morbidity, and economic costs.” The American journal of medicine 113, no. 1 (2002): 5-13.|