6 Ways Your Vagina And Vulva Will Change As You Age, 'Cause Gravity Affects Everything

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There are certain physical aspects of aging that we’re all pretty familiar with. Wrinkles. Saggy skin. Graying hair. Those are obvious because they’re visible, right? We can see Mom’s hair getting whiter; Grandpa’s wrinkles getting deeper; Auntie’s age spots on her hands. What we don’t usually see, however, is what happens to other people’s genitals as they age because, well, we’re not a culture that walks around with our balls and bits out. But your genitals change as you age. Just as the rest of your body shifts and sags and looks different as you get older, so too do your vulva and vagina.

"As the body ages, the vulva and vagina also undergo natural changes. After the menopause, estrogen levels drop and this causes the skin to become thinner and less elastic," Dr. Jennifer Dhingra, an NHS doctor, sexual health advocate, and youth expert tells Bustle. "This in turn may lead to vulvovaginal symptoms such as dryness, itching, irritation and some discomfort during penetrative sex."

Your genitals are going to going through some serious transformations as you go through life, especially if you decide to give birth vaginally at some point. Birth is the obvious game changer when it comes to changing shape, but even people with vaginas who choose to not have children will notice changes down there through the years.

So what are your genitals going to look like through the years? Will they sag? Wrinkle up? Get grey? The answer to all of those is yes: And more. Keep reading for six ways your vagina and vulva are going to transform in the years to come.

1. Your Pubic Hair Is Going To Be Way On Trend

And by "on trend," I mean gray, like all the cool kids are doing these days. Similar to the hair on your head, the hair on your genitals goes grey as your body produces fewer sex hormones (i.e. estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) as you age.

It may also go white or get thinner, especially post-menopause. There's little science to explain why your pubes might get patchy and thinner as you age. If you're a groomer, just think of it as a chance to take a break!

2. Your Vulva Might Get Thinner

Quick vocab lesson. Your vulva is the outer part of your bits, including your labia (the part that looks like lips) and your clitoris. Your vagina, on the other hand, is your inside parts — the canal inside your body that penises, fingers, and fun sex toys go into and babies come out of. Vulva = outside. Vagina = inside. Got it? Good.

As they age, many people experience Vulvovaginal Atrophy (VVA), which sounds scarier than it is. Don’t worry: they're not going to shrivel up and fall off. What might happen in your AARP years, however, is that your loss of estrogen results in your vulva losing some of its plumpness. It might also change color (getting darker or lighter) and appear to be smoother.

3. It Might Stretch With Childbirth

This is probably the most obvious, but people who choose to have babies and choose to deliver vaginally may experience a change in size in their vagina and vaginal opening. That makes sense, right? Babies are big! (Luckily, the vagina is a very resilient muscle and is designed to heal after birth. And if you're having trouble after having a baby, consider visiting a pelvic health specialist who an help get you back on track.)

4. Your Vagina Might Shrink

On the other hand, once you’re past childbearing years, your vagina decides that it’s time to chill out a little bit. Your vaginal opening may get smaller and your vaginal canal shorter, according to Health.

Luckily, decreases in size don't have to mean decreases in how often you have sex. One great thing about the vagina is the fact that the more often you use it— by which I mean, have penetrative sex with fingers, toys, or penises — the more elastic it will stay. You can also use topical estrogen cream to give your vulva and vagina a little jolt of that sex hormone as it decreases and, of course, always invest in a great lube.

5. You Might Experience Dryness

Many people's vulvas get dry when they’re older, which can lead to some unpleasant itching. Luckily, there are moisturizers you can use use to keep your vulva happy, even as your body decides it’s not so interested in keeping you comfortable anymore.

And don't be shy to talk to your doctor if you're dealing with vaginal itching! It's their job to take care of you — all of you — and it's nothing they haven't heard before.

"If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak to your GP, as there are treatments and lifestyle modifications that can help relieve the symptoms," Dr. Dhingra says. "Your GP may speak to you about the option of using HRT (hormone replacement therapy), however general vulval care, such as avoiding irritants, using emollients, and wearing cotton underwear, can also help to alleviate symptoms."

6. You Might Be At A Higher Risk Of Infections

All of that dryness, plus the thinning of your vulva means you’ll be at a higher risk for both UTIs and STIs — bummer. That's because your vulva is more likely to tear when it's dry and thin, which makes it easier for infections to work their way in.

Luckily, there's a simple solution for this: Lube! And condoms! A good lube will make it less likely that your vulva will tear, while a condom will protect against many STIs. (Just don't use any oil-based lubes with condoms, because that can degrade them and cause them to break.)

As for the UTIs, the standard advice applies. Pee before and after sex. Drink lots of water. Wipe front to back. And talk to your doctor if they keep coming back.

This post was originally published on August 4, 2015. It was updated on June 10, 2019.