We all know that wrinkles, grey hair, and achy joints are a part of the natural aging process but what happens to the vagina and vulva as we get older?

Pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowel may start to lose their support. When these muscles weaken, women may experience a decrease in pelvic floor strength, leading to issues like urinary incontinence or organs like the bladder, uterus, or bowel falling out of the vagina, known as prolapse.

Pubic hair will become thin and sparse. You may find a grey hair or two as well.

As we get older and estrogen decreases, the body will lose fat and collagen. The vulva and labia will become thin and lose their fullness. The labia may become smaller and look paler due to decreased blood flow, and the clitoris may become larger.

A decrease in estrogen can result in atrophy or thinning of the vagina and bladder. This can lead to symptoms like the urge to urinate more frequently and bladder infections. The decline in estrogen can also alter the ecosystem of the vagina. The pH of the vagina may change, which leads to a decrease in the number of Lactobacilli in the vagina that is needed to maintain a normal vaginal pH and prevent infections.

Vaginal dryness is a common complaint as we get older. A combination of decreased estrogen and blood flow to the vagina results in less lubrication. Vaginal dryness can cause irritation, itching, and burning in the vagina. Vaginal dryness can also cause painful intercourse. 

Some of these symptoms are a normal part of aging; however, they can affect your quality of life. Discuss your symptoms with your doctor to give you treatment options specific to your needs.