I don't know you, but I have no doubt you've got self-improvement goals on the docket for 2015. One you may have overlooked while busy going off sugar or increasing overall beauty by 12 to 18 percent is the fact that your vagina is aging faster than you can say cascading wizard sleeve. What to do?
It's funny—here you were taking stock of the old meat suit, likely putting most of your energy into fretting over only the stuff people can see, when all along, the danger hiding in your fridge is actually between your legs. Getting older! As I type this. Already older.
Luckily, in an article for Shape written in that cheerful tone that acts like it's actually doing you a favor by making you feel weird and/or bad (that seems to get recirculated with a new publication date every few months), we learn that there are not just one or two measly things you can do to stave off the grim reaper of your vagina, but seven whole things. Somebody get me an eraser, this New Year's resolution list just got a whole lot more fun!
Did you know that just as your face begins to sag in a decrepit march toward uselessness, that—surprise!—so does your vagina? Ha, maybe you did know, but did you know it starts in your EARLY TWENTIES? What's that you say? You're in your early thirties and your vagina is rarin' to go? No it isn't. It's practically trembling with infirmity. Time to get crucial.
From Shape, via Yahoo! Health, we discover that:
Just as your face starts sagging, so your lady parts will inevitably age over time. One critical difference: There are a million products to help keep your face looking supple, but your vagina is kind of left to fend for itself. "Gynecologists don't tell women these things are going to happen, and then women come in shocked that their vagina and vulva have completely changed over the course of a couple years," says Karen Boyle, M.D., an expert in female sexual health and vaginal rejuvenation.
Yeah. Where is a good vagina cream when you need one?? And where is a good gynecologist?!
I can't believe that when I go to get my annual checkup, that my gyno doesn't tell me that like the rest of my body and all other living things that have ever existed, that my vagina will also get older. I can't believe they don't stop the exam to slip me a pamphlet and say, "Hey, I don't know if you know this but your vagina? She's no spring chicken. And I should warn you, she's on her own when it comes to getting older. That dog will hunt for a while, but only right up until it gets too tired because of how old it is. Thought you should know now, though. In case you want to get started on The Regimen. Your vagina is not going to de-age herself, nosirree. That's up to you."
No, see, that is the sort of thing an expert in female rejuvenation would say—a.k.a. a plastic surgeon. That's who would position your aging vagina as a secret that is plotting against you by simply existing through time and space, a secret only they can help you with by ordering expensive surgical treatments. A woman's health practitioner or ob-gyn would not do that. I asked one, Alexis Paulson, APN, WHNP-BC.
I do not advise women on aesthetic changes from aging, no. If they have symptoms such as dryness or itching, sometimes due to aging, those can be addressed. I do not have any recommendations for women on how to keep their anatomy looking young. Hormone replacement could help keep the vagina and vulva pink and the tissue more elastic, and is often used for dryness or dyspareunia related to atrophic vaginitis. Topical steroids are also helpful in some cases. And TBH, no patient has ever asked me about how to keep their vagina 'looking young,' they are much more concerned about it feeling young/healthy.
But anyway, back to this droopy vag, which, P.S., is already even older now.
Beginning as early as your 20s, you may lose fat in your outer labia and mons pubis (the mound of fatty tissue above your lips). "Those areas can start to sag—it's volume loss, just like you'd have in your breasts or face as you age," says Boyle. That's often followed by changes inside your vagina (hello, stretching!), and as you approach menopause, the lining of your vagina starts to thin, blood flow decreases, and your pelvic floor muscles weaken, says cosmetic gynecologist Marco Pelosi, III, M.D.
Note to self: Keep face and breasts young in 2015 too. I know this is a stab in the dark, but given that this is happening to women and their bodies, it all sounds to me like something that is—again, just spitballing here—probably gonna affect self-esteem. Bingo:
And a sagging hoo-ha can be a confidence killer in the bedroom. A recent study in Psychology of Women Quarterly found that women who were dissatisfied with the appearance of their genitals had lower sexual self-esteem and satisfaction. "Not only do things look different, but things feel different," says Boyle.
::adjusts sagging hoo-ha to the left to get more comfortable::
The author says this may explain why vaginal rejuvenation is up 64 percent from 2011 to 2012, but I wonder if it's also articles like this. I'm not saying women can't want their vagina to look however the hell they want it to. I'm not suggesting there aren't real medical conditions or situations (fuck, I've had a baby OK?) that change your vagina and how you feel about it or what you thought it was supposed to look like forever for the rest of your life dot com. What I'm saying is you have to be able to hold all that within the context of how a culture shapes your feelings about what you're "supposed" to look like, one that tells you no matter what it looks like, it is probably wrong, and recognize that this feeds this sort of panic, the kind you weren't even fucking thinking about because you were actually too worried your hands were too old first.
Give women information, give them options, give them resources! But do not conflate their health with their looks. It's disingenuous.
But so what, right!? New year, new you! Here's what you can do to tame that beast as it becomes slowly ravaged by time.
Don't gain or lose weight quickly!
Not because it's unhealthy, but because the loss of fat makes the vulva "flop." Like a fish outta water? That's literally all I can picture. P.S. you can never get that fat back. Never.
Yeah. We know.
Bounce on a Swiss Ball for 15 Minutes a Day
Sure. Sure. Wait, really? Bouncing is ok?
God, of course, have sex if you want because it feels good. Not to keep your vagina young.
Re-Think Long Bike Rides
Um, no. No way. The pleasure and joy of a nice long bike ride — for your health, for your mood, for your stress levels — should never in a bajillion years be "re-thought" all because, according to a director of cosmetic surgery at a freaking spa, the "constant friction of crotch-to-seat contact can pull and stretch your labia, especially if you have naturally pronounced outer lips."
Fuuuuucccck that. Stop. Just stop. Stop telling women to not do fun, active things that are part of basic life pleasures because it might affect their appearance. Boooooooo.
Stick to Mild Cleansers
Yes, totally do that for good vaginal health. The end.
Climb on Top During Sex
Not because it feels good! But because being on bottom rags out your vag.
PS: Search results for "keep vagina young"
Search results for "keep penis young"
Hahah, it thinks I mean circumcision or actually keeping the penis healthy!!
To your health!
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.