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Vaginal health at every age

Your body goes through a lot of changes as you age, and your vagina and genitals are no exception.

You’ll probably notice and experience changes in how your vagina may feel or how your genitals look throughout your life. These changes are normal, but they can affect your bathroom habits and sex life.

Here are the common changes the vagina goes through every decade, and how you can cope with them.

In your 20s

Your vagina is in its prime years during your 20s. Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone — the sex hormones — are at their peak. Thus, this is the age when the vagina is well lubricated, highly elastic, and has the right level of acidity.

Libido and stamina are typically high during the 20s. However, you might also experience urinary tract infections (UTI) at this age if you’re sexually active, especially if you have sex frequently. Consider having a contraceptive method to protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies.

Prior to childbirth, the pelvic floor is incredibly strong at this age. Most women won’t have problems with weak muscles. But for some women, their pelvic floor muscles are too tight. This can cause pain during vaginal penetration or make it difficult to insert a tampon or menstrual cup.

In your 30s

The vulva may darken due to childbirth or hormone changes with age. But the skin elasticity is generally the same as during the 20s.

Those who become pregnant may experience increased milky vaginal discharge. It may have a slight odor, but it’s best to consult the doctor immediately if you notice green, yellow, foul, or fishy discharge.

One of the most common changes during this decade is a decrease in pelvic floor strength. The pelvic floor muscle supports the bladder, uterus, and bowel.

When its strength decreases, you may experience urinary incontinence (especially when you sneeze, cough, or laugh), bowel changes, a feeling of vaginal heaviness, and even prolapse (when the uterus, bladder, or bowel slips out of place). If you’ve given vaginal birth, these symptoms may be intensified.

The vagina may also temporarily lose its elasticity and stretch after giving birth, but will return to its pre birth size on its own. Doing Kegel exercises can help restore pelvic floor strength and vaginal tone.

There’s not much difference in sex drive and stamina during your 20s and 30s. But remember that life circumstances can sometimes affect libido. Responsibilities such as dealing with finances, kids, and career may take a hit on your libido and stamina.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women may experience a temporary menopause-like state. This can cause physical symptoms such as vaginal dryness. It can make sex uncomfortable, but a water-based lubricant such as EZ Lubricating Jelly can instantly make things better!

In your 40s

The vagina may go through significant changes once you hit your 40s. This is due to perimenopause, or the stage before menopause.

Your pubic hair may begin thinning and graying, while your vaginal walls will be thinner and drier because of the decrease in estrogen levels. This is known as vaginal atrophy, and common symptoms include:

  • Vaginal redness
  • Burning sensation in the vagina, especially when urinating
  • Painful sex
  • Vaginal itching

Want to know one trick to slow the progression of vaginal atrophy? Have regular sex, ladies! 

Sex increases the blood flow in the vagina, which keeps it elastic. If you already notice that sex seems to be a bit uncomfortable than before, a handy tube of water-based lubricant will help you get a smoother time!

In your 50s and beyond

Your are probably postmenopausal or beginning to experience menopausal changes at this age.

Many women in their 50s have trouble with vaginal atrophy. Experiencing these changes may not be the best thing, but be confident in the knowledge you’ve accumulated in the past decades to help keep your vagina happy and healthy, such as practicing open communication and the importance of having some lubricant handy.

It’s normal for the vulva, vagina, and cervix to become smaller in size, look paler in color, and have thinner skin due to the continuing decline of estrogen levels. Because of low estrogen, this may also change the vagina’s acidity, which can increase your risk for infections.

Vaginal lubrication may be significantly less. This can cause internal vaginal tissues to tear during penetration because the skin is thin and delicate — and that could be painful or cause bleeding. If you’d like to get frisky, remember to take things slow, ramp up on foreplay, and get some help from lubricants.

Takeaway

As you age, your body and vagina age along with you. The changes you will go through doesn’t have to be a negative or disheartening experience.

As wisdom comes with age, you can be more knowledgeable in taking care of yourself and be confident in your own skin.

The changes are inevitable, but you can keep your vagina as healthy as possible by:

  • Practicing safe sex
  • Doing Kegel exercises regularly
  • Avoiding douches and heavily scented vaginal products
  • Getting regular gynecological checkups

And regardless of age, get in touch with your doctor immediately when you experience:

  • Vaginal pain or a burning sensation
  • Green or yellow vaginal discharge
  • Foul discharge
  • Persistent vaginal itching
  • Painful sex

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/vaginal-health/what-you-need-to-know-about-vaginal-health-at-every-age

https://www.webmd.com/women/ss/slideshow-ways-your-vagina-changes-as-you-age

https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-02-04/what-happens-to-your-vagina-as-you-age/7113200

https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vagina-changes-20s-30s-40s-50s

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