It used to irk me as a child to hear the word “vagina.” Initially, it was the sound of the word; later, it was the taboo surrounding the word. Finally, it is the never-ending list of inconveniences associated with the word. Keeping all the negatives aside, if you are one with a vagina, it makes it obligatory in a way for you to know exactly what happens in those lower parts of your body. The vagina must be thinking how ungrateful her owner is and what a thankless job she does. She bleeds and tears to bring your baby into this world. Plus, she takes in so much nonsense to keep your body healthy. Can’t we forgive her for retaliating occasionally? Of course we can, right? As a dedication to all the vaginas, I present the timeline of vaginal changes beginning from the tantalizing thirties to the sassy sixties.
The thirties – the prime time all women would want to give birth to their babies. I’m sure there’s one question at the back of their minds that is robbing them of their peace, and that is – “Will my vagina come back to its original shape?” Before I answer that question, I feel it is necessary to tell you that two hormones are helping you in this expanding-contracting business. Estrogen does the expanding, and Relaxin, quite obviously, does the relaxing. So, first take a deep breath and allow the body to take its course during the process of childbirth. Except for medical professionals, gynecologists, and trained or experienced midwives, no one is gonna notice the change in your vaginal appearance (yes, not even your partner). A couple of factors like your genetics and how much you have pushed during your pregnancy or how many childbirths you had decide the degree of extension of the vagina. However, you could do some pelvic floor exercises during and after your pregnancy to make sure your vagina comes back to its former shape.
As you age, there is a slow, progressive decline in estrogen levels, which cause debilitating effects on your sexual and reproductive life. Your body begins to take a toll because of the perimenopausal and menopausal changes. There might be slight dryness and irritation in the vagina, but that doesn’t in any way mean you should refrain from enjoying your sexual life. Go for regular check-ups and rule out chances of benign tumors, cysts, and even cervical cancer. The average age for cervical cancer is mid to late forties, and it is always better to get yourself tested particularly if you are in your forties.
This is the time for the final climacteric menopause. The rapid regression of estrogen simultaneously causes the distention of vaginal walls, soreness, and dryness in the vagina, which is medically termed as Vulvovaginal Atrophy (1). Added to that, there could be a loss of pubic hair and a decrease in libido, and intercourse could become painful. There is a slightly higher risk of infections because the lack of sufficient estrogen deprives the vagina of good bacteria like lactobacillus. That automatically results in the multiplication of bad, harmful bacteria that make your vagina prone to repeated Urinary Tract Infections. Topical application of estrogen creams or other forms of estrogen treatment can help reverse the loss of elasticity in the vagina and retain the moisture content.
Certain changes that you should be prepared for when you hit your sixties are changes in the appearance of the vulva and the vagina. The vagina might look paler than before, and the vulva might shrink both near the opening and in length. Don’t worry, I’m not here to scare you about your sixties. The body is equipped with enough mechanisms to put you back on track. For instance, if you find your vagina too dry, there’s a quick fix for that. Indulge in regular intercourse and don’t let the number of your age come in the way. Periodic and timely sex not only keeps your zest intact but also ensures there’s no loss of elasticity and moisture in the vagina over the growing years. Also, talk to your gynecologist if you should be using any vaginal creams or lubricants. Consider estrogen replacement therapy if need be and make sure you go for periodical tests and scans to avoid issues like prolapse.
The worst thing you could do to yourself is giving up. The changes that follow aging are natural and inevitable but treatable. There’s just one thing that can keep the vigor in you in spite of these uncontrollable and difficult-to-deal-with changes, and that is to stay sexually active. A mere hormone reduction should not take the charm off your life, for, it requires only minor precautions and adjustments to put up with its consequences. Remember when you panic about the bleeding and tearing vaginas that this world has been a silent witness to billions of vaginas, is still witnessing billions, and will continue to witness billions more. And everything always just falls into place no matter what. Do you agree with me? Comment below and tell me how your experiences of womanhood had been and what vagina battles are you putting up with currently.