In today’s saturated beauty market, you’re no longer limited to slathering yourself with serums and peeling your skin off with various acids in an effort to look your most youthful. In order to reach the pinnacle of perfection (for some!), you can now give special TLC towards the nether-region: vaginal rejuvenation is on the rise. For those that aren’t ready to try more invasive measures, there are a slew of products on the market right now that are designed to maintain a young, beautiful vagina.
Some may say this is an unnecessary area to worry about beautifying, as there are no “beauty rules” for vaginas. Externally, the vulva can have all shapes and sizes and skin tones, so there is no ideal look. “Symmetrical labias don’t really exist,” says Janice Hartnett, M.D. of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Hartford, CT.
Despite the fact that many women don’t give the appearance of their vagina a second thought, the bottom line is that women want to look in the mirror and like what they see. (Even if it’s a hand mirror held in the most awkward of positions.) Women’s fear of aging — during a time of steady images of beauty and perfection via social media and reality television — has reached an all-time high. The vulva is just the latest obsession for women consumed with beauty and youth.
“A few years ago, nobody was really talking about this, but with the internet available for women to get a chance to see other women’s bodies, they can decide what they want to look like or what they consider to be ‘beautiful’ or ‘normal,’” says Dr. Glen Brooks, plastic surgeon of Long Meadow, MA and the medical director of the Delamar Med Spa in West Hartford, CT.
Before we start worrying too much about how old our vulva looks, and slathering it with anti-aging creams and serums, we should also consider the health of our privates. Warns Dr. Hartnett, “I urge patients to be extremely careful with what products they use, as the tissue is very sensitive.” And if you’re forsaking your vagina’s well-being because you’re concerned about what your partners might be thinking, certified sex therapist Wendy Haggerty LMFT, CST, says to let that go.
“Women tend to get distracted during intimacy by perceived imperfections,” says Haggerty, “It is important for women to work on being comfortable with themselves and not let external ideas of perfection affect their well-being and ability to enjoy intimacy.” She points out that how we feel about ourselves can affect desire — and the top concerns for her patients are all connected to desire.
We, of course, recommend consulting with your doctor before taking any measures to give your vagina a makeover. But if that’s what will make you feel more comfortable in your own skin, then good news: we’ve started some of the research for you. Whether you are single or freshly divorced and feeling self-conscious with new lovers, or are in a long relationship and want to stay looking youthful for your partner, there are new and exciting options to address certain signs of aging.
Recently, a line that specializes in skin care for vaginas, The Perfect V, has hit the market in the US after years of success overseas. The line includes the Shades of V™ Very V Luminizer ($43) designed to illuminate and add a special glow to your special parts, as well as anti-aging creams, exfoliators, serums and mists to be used as daily skincare routines to fight against aging vulvas. The idea behind these products is that we are focusing on anti-aging in areas such as our faces, necks, and décolletage — and we should consider giving our bikini area the same amount of TLC.
Another product line, Fur, specializes in a signature product called Fur Oil ($44) meant to smooth pubic hair to silky perfection. It simultaneously works to prevent ingrown hairs and calm inflammation, using all natural oils and ingredients. This product is a luxurious option to groom wiry hairs if you feel so inclined. It’s also been tested by dermatologists and gynecologists, and was formulated without artificial colors or fragrances.
While these companies claim to use ingredients that are safe and effective; many experts are skeptical. Dr. Brooks points out that “unlike the skin on our faces and bodies, it is likely that the skin in this area has never seen the sun, which means the major concerns of an ‘aging’ vagina are more commonly resulting from childbirth and/or hormonal changes. I would be very wary of applying topicals as the tissue is very sensitive.” Dr. Brooks concludes. Dr. Hartnett agrees, saying, “I wouldn’t bother with those products, as the number one way to keep your vagina healthy is with vaginal estrogen. Estrogen stimulates the basal layer of the skin, which prevents atrophy.”
Apparently, it’s hard to recreate vaginal estrogen, and without the proper amount of hormones, the outer lips (labia majora) can deteriorate. All experts agree that atrophy is a real concern when it comes to vaginal aging, but this can be helped with hydration. Haggerty suggests keeping the area nourished by using coconut oil or organic V Magic® ($30), a formula that touts itself as a vulva and intimate skincare cream. “This product is all natural and won’t throw off your PH balance.” she claims. Haggerty also suggests that using our vaginas is the best way to avoid atrophy (easier said than done!).
If this natural degeneration does take place, however, no amount of highlighter can help. This is when women often consider “vaginal rejuvenation,” a term that loosely covers a bunch of different procedures aimed at helping women who have experienced childbirth, aging and/or hormonal changes that have resulted in unwanted changes to their privates. These procedures, performed by plastic surgeons, serve to tighten and increase collagen in the area of concern.
There are different methods, but the most popular involve radiofrequency or laser energy to heat tissue. This will increase blood flow and collagen production, helping to firm up the tissue. For more serious conditions, (which typically happens as a result of childbirth), only surgery will help to permanently tighten the muscles.
Additionally, women often want to rid themselves of labia minora (the inner folds of skin) that has been stretched or appears as hanging skin. “This can be really difficult for some women to live with, as it can be uncomfortable to sit, have sex, ride a bike, and so on,” says Dr. Brooks. “Having this fixed surgically can really provide great results physically and emotionally.” He adds, “It is important to ask a lot of questions of your doctor before you schedule any procedure. Ask how many procedures he or she has done, ask about the risks and the side effects, the recovery, and any other questions that you might have.”
Our endless search for perfection may not end with the appearance of our privates, but it’s something that we can work on. Haggerty said it best when encouraging women to embrace their bodies as is: “Just like flowers, every woman’s vulva is uniquely wonderful and beautiful.”
Some products were gifted to the author for the purpose of writing this article.