What happens to your vagina as you age?

Just like the rest of your body, your vagina goes through major changes as you get older, especially after menopause. While these shifts are a normal part of the ageing process, they can still come as a surprise – and have a real impact on your bathroom habits, sex life, and more.


One of the biggest complaints among postmenopausal women is vaginal dryness. As oestrogen levels drop during menopause, the vaginal tissues become thinner, less elastic and more easily irritated.

The lack of natural lubrication can make sex uncomfortable or even painful. But regular intercourse helps by increasing blood flow to the area. Using a good lubricant is also key.

Your pubic hair thins out 

Just like the hair on your head, your pubic hair goes through growth cycles. But as you age the growth phase shortens while the resting phase gets longer, leading to hair thinning and loss.

The hormonal shifts of menopause also play a role, as testosterone becomes the dominant hormone. When more hair falls out than your body can replace, you’ll start to see areas of thinning. 

Your body makes less collagen

Gravity takes its toll over time, causing the skin of your labia to become looser and less taut. This is due to the age-related breakdown of collagen and elastin.

While perfectly normal, some women feel self-conscious about the sagging. There are surgical procedures available to reshape and tighten the labia.

Your pelvic organs can prolapse 

The pelvic floor muscles act like a hammock, holding your uterus, bladder and rectum in place. But ageing, childbirth, and menopause all weaken this crucial support system. As a result, those organs can start to droop or even bulge into the vagina – a condition called pelvic organ prolapse.

Vaginal prolapse is relatively common. About one-third of women will experience some degree of prolapse during their lifetime. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help. Special pessaries or surgical procedures may also be needed to provide extra support in more severe cases. 

Pubic hair turns grey

Finding your first grey pubic hair can be a shock. But it happens for the same reason as the greys on your head – as you age, the pigment cells inside each hair follicle die and stop producing the chemical melanin that gives your hair its colour. As melanin production slows, your pubic hair turns grey or white.

The process often starts in your 40s, but becomes more noticeable after menopause when oestrogen levels drop. 

Tissue becomes thinner

The vagina’s tissues become thinner and less elastic due to the loss of oestrogen during menopause. This can lead to shrinkage, making the vagina shorter and narrower, which may result in painful sex. Engaging in regular sexual activity, with a partner or through self-stimulation, can help keep the vagina flexible and prevent discomfort.

Sex can become painful

The thinning of vaginal tissues, coupled with dryness, can make sex uncomfortable and even lead to tearing and bleeding. It’s important not to let the fear of pain deter you from maintaining an active sex life. Lubricants can help, and if they’re not sufficient consult a doctor about oestrogen therapy or other treatments.

The risk of UTIs can increase

Postmenopausal women are more susceptible to urinary tract infections (UTIs). The loss of oestrogen alters the vaginal environment, diminishing the protective tissue barrier and allowing for an increase in harmful bacteria. Vaginal oestrogen therapy can help restore the balance of good bacteria and reduce the frequency of UTIs.

While these changes can be surprising and sometimes unwelcome, they are a natural part of ageing. It’s essential to approach these transformations with knowledge and understanding. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider, open discussions about sexual health, and exploring treatments can help manage these changes effectively.

If you have any concerns or questions about vaginal health as you age, don’t hesitate to reach out to a healthcare professional who can provide personalised advice and support.

Do you feel comfortable discussing all types of issues with your doctor? Have you ever changed doctors to find one you’re more comfortable with? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Also read: Five things you didn’t realise you need to know about perimenopause

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.


  1. The best personal lubricant we have found is called Olive & Bee, you will need to Google it to find a stockist, but it’s far better than water based gel lubricants.
    Old age shouldn’t have to be a barrier to us old folks enjoying intimate liaisons!

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