It’s with us from day one (well, from the ninth week of gestation to be exact) and it will be with us till the end. That’s right folks. We’re talking about the vagina. The most iconic lady part. The ole honey pot. The hoo-haa. The Vag.
Although we can count on it to be there for us no matter the time or place, we can’t always count on it to look or act the same! Vaginas are just like people – they grow, they change, they never go back to the way they once were. They’re special.
With that, here’s how your favorite lady bit changes throughout your life and what you can do to ease the not-so-pleasant transformations.
The next dramatic change to your vagina (after puberty) happens when you have your first child, which for most women tends to be between the ages of 20 and 39. With each vaginal birth, the pelvic floor muscles stretch and may even tear when the baby’s head comes through.
Although the vagina is an elastic organ and returns to pretty much the same size it was pre-baby, it never really goes back to quite the same tightness that it had before.
Some women may even begin to notice that their vulva (outside of the vagina) seemingly sags more after pregnancy and/or that they feel slightly looser during sex.
One thing you can do to combat this issue is to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by performing Kegel exercises. To identify these muscles, go to the bathroom and stop yourself mid-stream. Squeeze these same muscles for up to three seconds while lying down, and repeat 10 times.
Perimenopause, the five to 10-year period before menopause, tends to lower your estrogen levels. Because estrogen is responsible for keeping the vaginal collagen plump and moist, a decrease in this hormone can dry out the vagina. This organ might also become less stretchy and produce less lubrication.
To help with this dryness, you can try topical estrogen cream. This will aid your body in lubricating itself and in relieving other perimenopause-related symptoms, but it won’t completely compensate for decreased production of this hormone.
If you are looking for a stronger treatment, schedule an appointment with your doctor and consider hormone replacement therapy.
Age 50 and beyond
Once you go through menopause, your vagina will continue to become less elastic and it will begin to thin. Your vagina and clitoris might get noticeably smaller and your labia will become less plump, thus giving the appearance that they are sagging.
Additionally, vaginal atrophy might ensue, which will cause thinning, inflammation, and pain during sex.
Many women are embarrassed to seek treatment from their doctors because of the unpleasant symptoms described above. However, this is an important step in combating the discomfort you are experiencing, which is why you should speak to a medical professional if you deem it necessary.