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Vaginas Age Just Like Everything Else. You Can Slow It Down, Though.
Women's Health

Vaginas Age Just Like Everything Else. You Can Slow It Down, Though.

There is one milestone in a woman’s life that may not get talked about a lot, but it remains firm in our memory — it’s the first time that we notice that we’ve got a gray pubic hair. When I tell you that there’s nothing like it — Lawd, have mercy! I mean, even more than seeing the first gray hair on our head, there is something that is far more “What TF is going on?” about a gray pubic hair that…I’ll just say that if it hasn’t happened to you, just wait until it does.


I think it’s because, if anything is a true sign that time is marching on and we are getting older, it’s that. It’s also proof that, just like every other part of our body, vulvas (the outer part of our vagina) and vaginas do indeed age.

Is there anything that can be done to stop it? I’m gonna shoot it straight — absolutely not. That’s the “bad” news. The good news is there are all-natural tips that you can do to help slow down the signs of aging down below as well as things that can make that perfectly natural season of life so much easier to, not only deal with but actually embrace as well.

That said, let’s look at some top signs of vaginal aging along with some things that you can do about it, shall we?

1.Your top vulva area won’t seem as plump and full.

If you consider yourself to have a fat vagina (or someone has told you that you do), all that really means is your mons pubis (the top part of your labia, that part of your vulva where most of your pubic hair grows) is “meatier.” For the record, this can be due to genetics, weight gain, pregnancy, or hormone fluctuations.

Anyway, if this is the way it’s always been and it doesn’t seem to be as plump and full as it used to be, aging can definitely play a role and sagging can start to set in.

Solution:

Two things that you can do (outside of a cosmetic procedure) that can reduce some of the sagging include doing exercises like leg lifts, crunches, and cardio and consuming more protein, citrus fruits, and dark leafy greens. By the way, two carrier oils that are great for saggy skin are grapeseed oil (thanks to its high amount of vitamin E and fatty acids) and tamanu oil (it contains properties that help to plump and tone the skin). Massage either or both onto your mons pubis after getting out of the shower on a daily basis to receive notice results within a few weeks.

2.Your pubic hair turns gray.

The rule that applies to the hair that’s on your head is the rule that applies to pubic hair too. Long story short, as you age, the pigment cells in your hair follicles start to die and that’s what prevents color (from the melanin) from running through them. Also, just like the hair on your head, when this happens has a lot to do with your genetics; however, overall, your late 30s is the average age for when those bad boys decide to make their official debut.

Solution:

Gray hair is a fact of life and, for now, not much can be done about it. You can slow down the process of premature graying by reducing your stress levels; eating more copper-based foods (like dark chocolate, sesame seeds, and shiitake mushrooms); upping your doses of zinc, iron, and vitamin D; massaging the carrier oils sweet almond and/or rosemary onto it your pubic hair, and not using harsh chemicals on it.

If you read all of that and you were like, “Uh-huh, but how do I cover it up…NOW?”, there is a hair dye product that’s specifically designed for pubic hair. It’s called Betty and you can learn more about it here.

3.Your pubic hair also thins out.

As you get closer to menopause and certainly after you get past it, you may notice that the hair on your head as well as your pubic hair may start to thin out. Heredity, hormonal shifts, and even certain medications can play a role in this.

You can’t do much about what’s in your gene pool and, if it is a prescription that’s causing the thinning or hair loss, you should see your doctor. But, as far as your hormones go, there are some all-natural approaches that you can take.

Solution:

Reducing stress levels. Taking care of your gut health. Reducing your sugar intake. Consuming some evening primrose oil (I am a huge fan!). Keeping your body at a healthy weight. Getting no less than 6-8 hours of sleep (not sometimes; consistently). Eating more anti-inflammatory foods like tomatoes, collards, almonds, olive oil, and black pepper. And having more sex (to get rid of some of that pent-up stress; make sure it’s protected if a baby will only cause more stress in this season of your life, though).

4.Your labia starts to sag.

Two things that we naturally produce less of as we get older are collagen and elastin. That’s why it’s common to notice that as people get older, their skin doesn’t appear to be quite as firm. The reality is that your skin doesn’t discriminate when it comes to your labia (your lips — inner and outer), so it can start to sag over time too.

Solution:

Something that I’ve been doing lately, for the sake of my skin all over, is taking a collagen supplement. I can see a difference too because it helps my skin to keep that noticeable firmness whenever I pull on one of my cheeks and my skin still immediately “pops” back into place. Foods that are high in collagen include bone broth, fish, egg whites, chicken, and gelatin. You might want to massage your vulva (outside not inside) with some carrot seed oil because it helps to stimulate the production of collagen as well.

As far as elastin production goes, believe it or not, witch hazel has a pretty good reputation for helping out in that department. Just make sure that it’s also something that you apply externally not internally so that you don’t irritate the sensitive skin that’s within your inner lips and inside of your vagina.

5.Your vagina may get smaller.

Now when I say that your vagina might get smaller, what I’m referring to is your literal vaginal canal. As we age, our estrogen levels decrease and that can result in our vagina getting smaller in width and length. Here’s the thing about that, though — a lot of women don’t know that the average size of their vaginal canal is somewhere between 2.75 inches and 3.25 inches and that it goes up to 4.25 inches to 4.75 inches whenever they are sexually aroused.

That’s why the whole “I need a big D” really needs to be put to rest (check out “BDE: Please Let The 'It Needs To Be Huge' Myth Go”). The average size of a penis when it’s erect is 5.5 inches and yes, when your partner is into you and intentional about pleasing you, that actually is enough to get the job done; especially as you age.

Solution:

For this one, there isn’t really a solution per se. What I will say is that with labiaplasty becoming more popular than ever, this is one side of vaginal aging that you might actually look forward to being that you won’t need to worry about making your vagina tighter…I mean, if time is already doing it for you.

6.Your vagina gets dry.

Outside of gray hairs, probably the most telling sign of vaginal aging is not being able to get as “wet” as you’re used to being (*le sigh*). You can “thank” your friend estrogen again for causing this because a lack of it can kick your vagina into vaginal atrophy (more on that in a bit)— a part of what comes with that is less natural lubrication.

Solution:

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it,” and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to keeping your vagina lubricated. In other words, increasing sexual stimulation can help to make vaginal dryness less of an issue. So does doing things like consuming more fluids; eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (including salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, egg yolks, and broccoli); taking a multivitamin (you need more vitamins A, B, D, and E in your system); ramping up your exercise regimen and doing Kegels specifically. Kegels are good because they help to increase blood flow to your pelvic region and that can help with improving your lubrication levels.

Applying a vaginal moisturizer every night and using a vaginal lubricant during sex can help tremendously in this area too. If you’d prefer to make your own lube, check out mindbodygreen’s article “How To Make Your Own All-Natural Vaginal Lubricant.”

7.Your vulva may turn lighter. 

This particular aging sign may be one that you would never notice unless you’re someone who does vaginal self-exams on a consistent basis (which is always a wise thing, by the way). Still, they’re a good thing to put on record too. That said, it’s not uncommon for your vulva to turn a shade or two lighter as it gets older. The backstory here is that, as your estrogen levels shift, it can also decrease the amount of blood flow that your vulva and vagina receive which can cause them both to appear a bit paler.

Solution:

Any place where your body is lacking blood flow, it’s going to need some sort of stimulation. Massages are what’s usually applied to other parts; however, when it comes to your vagina, basically a “coochie massage” would be some form of masturbation.

Other options include exercising, consuming foods that increase blood flow (including berries, onions, dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and cinnamon); consuming black and/or green tea; easing up on the stress, and being intentional about monitoring your blood pressure levels.

8.Your vaginal walls will get thinner. 

Remember how I said that we’d come back to vaginal atrophy? It’s kind of a long story but the bottom line is, the technical name for it is atrophic vaginitis, it typically occurs during menopause (although things like breastfeeding, birth control, and a hysterectomy can trigger it too) and it can cause your vaginal walls to get thinner, drier and inflamed.

Solution:

Believe it or not, something that can help to bring relief to this particular issue is to increase sexual activity because it will bring more blood flow to your vagina. And even though your doctor might recommend some sort of estrogen therapy, there are some natural ways to get more estrogen into your system. Some of those things include eating more phytoestrogens (plant-based compounds that mimic estrogen) like sunflower seeds, walnuts, apples, grapes, and yams; taking an herbal supplement that contains phytoestrogens like dong quai, black cohosh, or chasteberry (you might want to run this by your physician first; especially if you’re on some sort of medication), and putting your body on a sleep schedule so that your rest habits are consistent.

9.You will be more vulnerable to STDs and UTIs. 

Unfortunately, the natural loss of estrogen could also put you at risk for more STDs and UTIs (urinary tract infections). Why? Well, remember how I said earlier that your vaginal walls get thinner as you age? This means that they are more vulnerable to infection and, as far as UTIs go specifically, they are also more vulnerable to the growth of bad bacteria.

Solution:

This is why it’s such a ridiculous myth that once you’re past menopause, you shouldn’t worry about using condoms because if you can’t get pregnant anymore, what’s to worry about? Listen, someone in their 70s can get an STD just as much as someone in their 20s can — some might say easier and quicker. As far as UTIs go, adding PURE cranberry juice (not the cocktail stuff) more into your diet; being intentional about peeing right after sex; avoiding the use of feminine hygiene products that contain harsh chemicals; consuming foods that are high in vitamin C (like red berries, cauliflower, tomatoes, papaya, and garlic); and wiping from front to back will all help to keep the risk of contracting one down.

10.Sex might be uncomfortable. 

Thin vaginal walls and a dry va-jay-jay are not exactly ideal for some mind-blowing sex — that’s for sure. So, if you’ve not really noticed any of what I’ve said but all of a sudden sex feels less comfortable than it used to, this could also be a sign that an aging vagina is upon you.

Solution:

The good news is applying some of the things that you’ve already read can help to make it more pleasant. So can changing positions, so that you are more in control of penetration. Ones that make this possible include the cowgirl position (you know, being on top), the lotus position (where you and your partner face each other while becoming a human pretzel), and the spoon position (where you each are on your side and he enters you from behind).

Aging — including vulva and vaginal aging — is a part of life. Once you accept it, you can get ahead of the process by putting these tips into practice.

Either way, don’t be too hard on the aging process that “she’s” either experiencing or going to experience. She’s been good to you. Give her time of “seasoning” some respect. She’s earned it.

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Featured image by Christopher Pedraza/Getty Images

 

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