Disclaimer: I’m about to throw around the word moist quite A LOT during this story. For that I apologise in advance – but it really is unavoidable.
Because here’s the thing, women’s vaginas, up until a certain age, are usually quite naturally supple and (I’m sorry) moist. Once you hit menopause though – WHAM! It’s like the damn El Niño hit down there.
Yet even though we try to counteract the lightly etched wrinkles around our eyes with any number of “miracle creams” and dye our hair to the point of pattern baldness to stave off greys, little thought goes into maintaining our nethers.
Maybe it’s because it’s covered up, or perhaps because it’s a bit embarrassing to talk about: I mean, it’s not like it’s an easy topic to segue into at a dinner party, is it?
But here’s a newsflash ladies: If you want the word “moist” back in you daily life, you need to know a few things about your ageing vagina. Pronto.
Here's a guide to help you know, as you mature, if what you're experiencing (or not experiencing) is normal.
The hair down there.
Whether you're the kind of woman who landscapes her "lady garden" or the type who prefers to go au naturale, nothing can prepare you for your first grey pube. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, discovering one of these is bloody confronting - and completely normal, unless you got a really bad shock and it happens overnight.
And going grey downstairs won't be the only surprise as you get a little older. After menopause, you can expect to thin out and and lose quite a bit of hair. You won't lose it all, but it will be noticeable. This isn't so bad. Just think of it as nature's Brazilian.
It's a common misconception that the vulva and vagina are the same thing. The two are closely connected, but they are, in fact, very different parts of your anatomy. This isn't going to be a science lesson because nobody has time for that, so to put it very basically: the vulva is the outside (lips, clitoris, labia majora, labia minora, even the urethra) and the vagina is the canal.
Your vulva will remain largely unchanged, probably even through your '50s. It will, however, at some point become paler and smoother due to a decrease in oestrogen that is a direct result of menopause. Whether you find this a bad thing or not is over to you.
It's a different story for your vagina: it's going to change a fair bit as you age due the decrease in the "sex hormone" oestrogen. The vaginal opening and its length can shrink. You may also suffer from irritation because the vaginal walls will become thinner and lose elasticity, and therefore lose its natural "moisture". Also not fun (and completely unfair after everything you've already been through up until this point) you can start to get irritations, burning sensations and itching, especially during and after sex. This is annoying but easily remedied.
Fixing the itch
Ha! You thought your days of sneaking into the chemist to buy a tub of vaseline were over, didn't you? Think again - you might very well need some if you are 'getting it on' in your 50s, 60s and beyond. A good lubricant will help with irritation and dryness during sex.