As age catches up, hair on head turns grey, more hair is shed, wrinkles start showing up on the face, muscle strength declines etc. Everyone knows this and the best many do is to ‘cover’ it up as much as they can. How about the ageing private parts? They are as much important as your face and from health perspective, they are even more important and you should be taking care of them even more than when you were young, especially when it comes to your vagina.
The shape, colour and size of vagina vary from woman to woman but as the body ages, all of them go through similar changes. Major events that affect the vagina aesthetically and functionally are pregnancy and menopause. Let’s take a look what changes (to the vagina) can one expect/experience at every stage of her life.
Vagina during 20s or 30s
Many unmarried and married women who do not want to get pregnant take birth control pills. Birth control pills are basically hormone based pills that control the hormone levels in a woman’s body. Some work by stopping the ovaries from releasing the egg, some make the mucus in the cervix region thick so that sperms cannot pass through and some weaken the lining inside the uterus so that the fertilized egg can’t be held inside. There are side effects of using these pills. The vagina becomes dry as it stops lubricating itself. Having sex with a drier vagina can be painful and irritating instead of a pleasurable experience.
Pregnancy and child birth
This has a major impact on the tightness of the vagina especially in cases of normal vaginal delivery of the baby. The uterus expands to a huge melon size during pregnancy as a result of which varicose veins may be visible on the belly area and on the vagina. The hormones that are produced when a woman is carrying can turn the colour of the vagina darker. During vaginal delivery, the vagina opens up very wide making it loser than that was before delivery. This also weakens pelvic muscles because of the pressure applied on them when carrying the baby and during delivery. However, the beauty of human creation is that the vagina contracts and tries to get back to its normal size and tightness in 2 months. Though not 100%, it goes back to its original tightness only to an extent.
That’s why your gynaecologist will advise you to perform regular pelvic exercises to tighten the muscles inside your pelvis region. In some cases, the weakened pelvic muscles can result in various problems such as prolapse of pelvic organs or urinary incontinence. As the muscles gain strength, vagina becomes tighter and you can enjoy sex just like before (delivery).
During your 40s
Just like the hair on your head, pubic hair becomes thinner, vagina starts showing pigmentation (turns darker) as you wax or shave down there. This is because of the declining levels of estrogen hormones. This is also called ‘perimenopause’ age that comes before ‘menopause’. Unlike the changes during pregnancy and child birth, vagina doesn’t go through a huge transformation but you can experience
- Dryness of Vagina
- Thinning of vaginal walls
- Loss of elasticity
Dry vagina can be itchy and show some redness. Having sex on a dry vagina can be painful. As a result, some may even lose interest in having sex. If this is happening to you, you must see a good gynaecologist immediately to address your problem. He/She may put you on medication (related to hormones) and advice you to use ‘water based lubricants’ to keep the vagina soft and less painful during sex.
It is very important to perform Kegel’s exercise during your forties to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
This is the age (50 – 55 years) when women attain menopause. A period where one has no periods. While this may sound like some sign of relief, the side effects of menopause becomes quite unbearable for some, including night sweats, hot flashes, total dryness of vagina etc. You can read about ‘menopause and the associated problems and treatment’ by clicking the link.
Body produces very very little amount of estrogen during this period making the vaginal walls even thinner, drier. Vaginal vulvar tissues lose fat and collagen. Some may lose total interest in having sex at this stage. When the vagina hurts during penetrative sex, the pelvic muscles contract automatically to protect the vagina. As the vagina gets drier, the body stops generating certain bacteria in the vagina. The presence of good bacteria in the vaginal canal is very important because, that prevents many infections that can affect it such as bacterial Vaginosis, UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections) and other sexually transmitted infections.
It is important that you see your gynaecologist if you are not able to tolerate the symptoms of menopause. Your doctor will put you on Hormonal Therapy to ease the symptoms and recommend usage of moisturizers, lubricants to take care of your vagina. Sticking to healthy food habits, regular work outs and right medications can keep you healthy and sexually active even when you are in your 50s. In fact, some women enjoy their menopause stage.
60s and above
Most of the menopause symptoms subside but the vagina will still be dry. Applying water based lubricants and moisturizers are some options a woman will have. One has to always keep an eye on the discharge that occurs, if any. Due to the reduced bacteria in the vagina, it is prone to infections that can result in different types of discharge.
How to take care of your vagina at all times?
- Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water, fruit juices every day. This not only keeps your skin and body healthy, vagina will also be hydrated.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises – We cannot stress enough on how important it is to work your pelvic muscles out. Strong pelvic muscles help you avoid a ton of problems that you may face otherwise as you age.
- Quit Smoking if you are smoker. Smoking kills the estrogen levels and you become old much sooner.
- Keep having sex. If you start abstaining yourself from sex, you will continue to do so and that makes it difficult when you want to have sex after a long break.
- Keep in touch with your gynaecologist. Keep your medications on and follow his/her advise. Use lubricants and moisturizers as per his/her advice.
- If you feel that your vagina needs to be tightening but don’t want to undergo a surgery, you can look for ‘laser vaginal tightening’ procedure that can be done during your lunch breaks.
- Lightening/Whitening of Vagina can also be performed as a day care procedure.
- If you find any excess skin peeping out of the vagina, you can opt for ‘Labiaplasty’.
Remember, you can keep your vagina looking younger, tighter and healthier with a good lifestyle and a good gynaecologist.