There are a few common expectations that come along with the process of aging: grey hair, wrinkles, and senility. However, what we don’t quite think about enough are the changes that occur down under, with the vagina. Your modesty is in for quite a ride as you get older. Do you know what you should keep an eye out for in order to maintain vaginal health into your later years?
Vaginal Health Over the Years
1. Hair Loss
Just like your head hair changes color and thins with age, so too will your pubic hair. You may even lose a lot of your pubic hair due to age--a bonus if you prefer to shave or wax it.
2. Vulva Maturation
The vulva is the area outside of the vagina, whereas the vagina is the canal. The vulva includes the lips, clitoris, labia majora, labia minora, and urethra. Until your 40s and 50s, the vulva remains relatively the same. Eventually, the vulva begins to experience Vulvovaginal Atrophy (VVA). VVA is a result of the lower levels of estrogen in the body due to menopause and leads to thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls. The vulva skin becomes thinner, less distinct, and less full.
3. Vaginal Irritation
VVA also affects the inside bits (aka, the vagina). The vaginal opening and the length of the vagina may shrink. The vaginal walls become thinner and lose their elasticity and moisture. Exercise, sex, and other physical activities can induce itchiness and light pain in the vagina.
When you hit your 40s, you may want to start to moisturize your vulva to improve moisture. (But talk with your gyno first.) Another remedy is to keep up regular sex, which maintains flexibility and moisture in your lady parts and helps relieve the stress of, you know, having an aging vagina.
4. More UTIs
Urinary tract infections are no fun and are a threat to every girl at just about every age. However, as you get older and the vaginal tissue around the urethra becomes thinner, you become more susceptible to infections, including UTIs. Low estrogen levels are linked to an increase in UTIs.
5. Sex Drive
In one study, it was found that women are having more sex and indulging in more sexual fantasies in their 30s and 40s than woman in their late teens and 20s. However, the sex drive of women is two to three times more likely to decline than that of men as she ages and goes through menopause. Even so, libido is a fickle subject, as it differs drastically from one person to the next. Part of maintaining sexual desire is to avoid the physical discomforts that come along with VVA by keeping your vagina and vulva lubricated with moisturizers and regular sex.
A weakened pelvic floor can cause organs to shift from their original positions. Some 30 percent to 40 percent of women experience prolapse, and post-menopausal women who have delivered babies several times are more vulnerable to prolapse. To prevent prolapse, keep up your kegels!
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