Changes in the vagina are not something people talk about. But as a woman and a mum, you realise that puberty, childbirth, and menopause have an impact on your vagina. However, major changes to the vulva – which includes the labia and the vagina – also takes place between these milestones.
The different life stages of your vagina
Puberty is when your vagina starts to mature. When ovulation occurs during this period, mucous-like discharge comes out from your vagina.
In your 20s, the appearance of your vagina can change drastically. This is due to hormones and birth control. The labia – the inner and outer lips of your genitalia – may get bigger and even change colour. Remember that appearances vary and nothing is right or wrong.
Your pubic hair may also get thicker and the colour of this hair can also change. During this time, your pelvic floor is very strong and this is your body’s prime childbearing years.
How quickly your vagina ages largely depends on your lifestyle. | Image Source: Unsplash
In your 30s, gravity and childbirth cause your pelvic floor to lose strength. Your vagina starts to lose its natural muscle tone. This is when Kegel exercises become increasingly important.
A weak pelvic floor puts women at risk for pelvic organ prolapse. This is when the bladder, uterus or rectum fall down and push on the vagina. This condition heightens the risk of urinary or faecal incontinence.
Kegels will help if you have had a vaginal birth. Swelling, stretching and inflammation that may occur during this event will subside. But your vagina may never return to its previous shape and size even with Kegel. Be okay with this as it is perfectly normal.
So, how do you do Kegels? It’s simple. Just pull up and in your vaginal muscles for as long as you can, several times a day. The sensation should feel like you’re holding in your pee… and letting go.
Because of your hormonal levels, the 30s is also when women are physically capable of having the best sex of their lives. This is purely from a physiological standpoint and remember that how you feel about your partner and your attraction to them always play important roles in sexual satisfaction.
The 40s is when your oestrogen levels decrease. This can cause the labia to appear looser. Meanwhile, pubic hair starts to thin out and grey.
Vagina dryness and wrinkles on the vulva can occur during menopause. Other signs of the end of your menstrual cycle includes hot flashes, mood changes and irregular periods.
Unfortunately, vagina dryness can cause painful sex, prolapse or urinary tract infections. Doctors recommend using synthetic lube during intercourse and increasing the amount and time of foreplay. Note that it may take a lot more to climax than before.
In your 50s, your vulva can change colour. The skin may appear thinner and even wrinkly. Keep in mind that all these stages are normal and should be expected. But, if you are concerned about how your vagina is changing, consult your gynaecologist or health care provider.
Also read normal vaginal discharge and what happens to your vagina if you don’t have enough sex. If you are so inclined, take a look at vagina grooming treatments.