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Effects of Aging on the Female Reproductive System

By

Jessica E. McLaughlin

, MD, Medical University of South Carolina

Last full review/revision Apr 2022| Content last modified Apr 2022
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION

After menopause, the tissues of the labia minora (which surround the opening of the vagina and urethra), clitoris, vagina, and urethra become thin (atrophy). This thinning can result in chronic irritation and dryness of the vagina. Vaginal discharge and urinary tract infections are more likely to develop. Also after menopause, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries become smaller.

With aging, there is a decrease in the amount of muscle and connective tissue, including that in muscles, ligaments, and other tissues that support the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. As a result, the affected organs may not be supported and may drop down (prolapse Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) Pelvic organ prolapse involve a dropping down (prolapse) of the bladder, urethra, small intestine, rectum, uterus, or vagina caused by weakness of or injury to the ligaments, connective tissue... read more Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) ), sometimes causing a feeling of pelvic pressure or fullness. They may bulge at the opening of the vagina and cause difficulty urinating or loss of control of urination or bowel movements (incontinence). Women who have had children are more likely to have such problems, but they may affect any woman.

Did You Know...

  • Some women enjoy sexual intercourse more after menopause.

Because there is less estrogen to stimulate milk ducts, the breasts decrease in size. The connective tissue that supports the breasts also decreases. The loss of support contributes to changes in breast shape. Fibrous tissue in the breasts is replaced with fat, making the breasts less firm.

Age-related changes in reproductive organs do not interfere with sexual pleasure. However, vaginal dryness after menopause can cause pain during sexual activity, and some women feel a decrease in the desire to have sex.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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