Though you may not be aware, vaginas go through changes along with the rest of your body. Here’s of the vagina changes over the decades from your 20s, 30s and beyond …
Why do vaginas change?
Through the years, your vagina changes with the rest of your body, drooping and even drying as you approach menopause. Hormonal changes influence the way your vagina looks and feels – though it’s all totally normal. Over time, you can expect a change in vulva thickness, lubrication and pelvic floor strength. Read on for the specifics of how your vagina changes with age.
In your 20s
Puberty’s over (thank goodness) and your organs have reached their adult size. Except, that is, for your labia majora – the outer “lips” that enclose the rest of your privates. Don’t be shocked to see these looking slimmer. As you age, subcutaneous fat, including that of your genitals, decreases.
In your 30s
The big stretch
The uterus balloons to watermelon proportions during pregnancy – then shrinks back down within six weeks after birth. In South Africa, statistics show that the majority of births in private hospitals are conducted by C-section, sparing their vag opening similar stretching.
The hormone shifts that come with pregnancy or ageing can cause your labia minora, the “inner” lips that encircle the clitoris and vaginal opening, to darken in colour. So you can relax if, on your next self-check, it’s like 50 shades of (mauve-ish) grey down there.
In your 40s
Though a woman’s egg supply dwindles rapidly in her early forties, she still ovulates and (sigh) gets her period. Cycles are a bit shorter, though, and tend to peter out by age 51 – i.e. menopause. Your body puts an end to fertility five to 10 years before that.
Your repro organs are supported by a hammock of tendons, tissue and muscle. Extra kilos, ageing or years of high-impact workouts can loosen this pelvic floor, straining organs and causing bladder leakage or a “heavy” feeling down below. Your move: Kegel exercises! These simple moves strengthen your pelvic floor, making it healthier – and for stronger orgasms.
Lower oestrogen levels affect the vagina’s acid-alkaline balance, which can spur inflammation – along with thinning and drying of the vaginal walls, which can cause itching, burning and redness. Silver lining: regular sex can prevent this (get on it!).
This article was first published in womenshealthmag.com.