All About Your Vagina According to Your Age
As you can imagine, your vaginal health isn't the same at 20 as it is at 50. Find out what all you need to know about your vagina and what you should be on the lookout for at your age.
As you get older, your body goes through a lot of changes. That includes your vagina, a canal made of soft tissues that you’ll see change as you go through the different stages of your life. To maintain good vaginal health, it’s important to know about your vagina in each stage.
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About Your Vagina in Your 20s
This is one of the best stages of life, for both you and your vagina. This is mainly due to your sex hormones.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone production are at their highest. Estrogen is the hormone in charge of making sure your vagina is always lubricated, elastic, and has a healthy level of acidity.
Similarly, with your sex drive as high as it is in your 20s, you’ll probably have a very active sex life. However, this increases your risk of urinary tract infections. UTIs are caused by bacteria moving from the vagina towards the urethra.
To lower this risk, it’s important to urinate as soon as you can after sex. This will get the bacteria out of your urethra.
In this stage of life, your vagina will do its own cleaning. It does this by producing a white or clear secretion that helps clear out bacteria. Unless you are experiencing pain during sex, itching, irritation, or foul-smelling secretions, taking care of your vagina will consist of cleaning the outside daily with mild soap and water.
In this stage of life, you should see your gynecologist once a year for a checkup.
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About Your Vagina in Your 30s
This stage of life comes along with darkening of the labia minora due to hormonal changes happening in your body.
If you’re pregnant, vaginal discharge may increase and be milky and have a mild smell. This is all normal as long as it’s not green, yellowish, or has a bad odor.
After giving birth, your vagina may lose some elasticity due to the trauma of birth. At first, it will probably be a bit more stretched out than usual, but it will eventually return to its normal shape.
It’s a good idea to do Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic area and get most of your vaginal tone back.
If you’re taking oral contraceptives, you may see an increase in vaginal discharge or dryness. These symptoms do tend to fix themselves over time, however. Though, if they persist, it’s best to see your doctor and ask about contraceptives that won’t negatively affect your vaginal health.
About Your Vagina in Your 40s
Thanks to perimenopause, your vagina will go through some significant changes. As estrogen levels fall, your vagina walls will become thinner and drier. This is called vaginal atrophy.
This issue can cause symptoms such as:
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal discharge
- Burning during urination
- Shortening of the vaginal canal
- Increased risk of STDs
Having regular sex can be good for your vaginal health.This is because blood flow to the vagina increases, keeping it elastic.
If you are dealing with dryness, you can use moisturizing vaginal creams, or estrogen creams to fight this problem. However, if you prefer a more natural treatment, you can try applying a little bit of olive oil or coconut oil to keep your vagina hydrated.
Your vaginal health in your 50s and up
By this time of life, you’re probably not menstruating anymore and your estrogen levels are low. Your vulva may seem to have shrunk and you may experience vaginal atrophy.
The acidity of your vagina may be affected as well, and your risk of bacterial infections may go up.
In addition, low estrogen levels can also affect your urinary tract. Additionally, atrophy can occur in your urethra as well. This can lead to an overactive bladder and leaking.
In these cases, you can turn to oral or vaginal hormone therapy to help reduce the symptoms. However, this isn’t an option for some women. Nevertheless, there are other remedies:
- Do vaginal exercises
- Use vaginal dilators to improve elasticity
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Lower your caffeine intake
- Don’t smoke
- Do pelvic floor muscle training exercises
- Use vaginal lubricants
- Use hydrating vaginal creams
Another concern is vaginal prolapse, which happens when all or part of the vaginal canal falls out towards the vaginal opening. This problem affects the bladder, rectum, and uterus. To treat a prolapse, pelvic floor muscle training exercises are recommended, or the use vaginal support devices and, as a last resort, surgery.