If you recently took a peek down south and were surprised (to say the least) to see wrinkles, you’re far from alone. Everyone has wrinkles there. In fact, it would be weird if you didn’t. And having them is a very good thing. “Wrinkles are a mark of elasticity, and we want a vagina that can stretch and expand because that leads to better sex,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale University School of Medicine. And it if you’re expecting a baby, that flexibility (clearly) also makes for an easier delivery.
Like the wrinkles on your face, the ones on your vagina can vary widely, according to your lifestyle, age, and genetics. But unlike the ones on your face, you don’t want to treat these with a retinoid, which could end up backfiring by drying out and irritating the delicate skin, says Lynette J. Margesson, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and surgery at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. “The vulva is supposed to be wrinkly and crinkly,” she says. “These wrinkles are normal and you sure aren’t going to change that with any cream, lotion, or potion.”
Some women do actually have vaginas that get less wrinkly as they age. “When we go through menopause, estrogen levels go down and we lose wrinkles because the tissue becomes flat and dry,” explains Minkin. “Isn’t it ironic when we’re post-menopausal we get wrinkles in places we don’t want them, yet lose them where no one can see them?”
If you do have wrinkles and they really and truly bother you, there’s vaginal rejuvenation surgery, but both Margesson and Minkin advise against spending thousands of dollars —the procedure can cost up to $10,000—to tighten the skin. Eliminating the wrinkles can lead to more serious issues, like torn skin and general discomfort, particularly during sex. “That surgery will make the vagina drier and less stretchy,” cautions Minkin. Instead, she recommends incorporating kegel exercises into your daily routine to naturally tighten your vagina (Minkin does them every time she pumps gas). Shoot for two sets of 10 contractions, holding each for five seconds, and one set of 30 one-second squeezes.
For serious cases of Pelvic Relaxation—that’s when the skin has gotten extremely stretched out, typically after having kids—she’ll prescribe vaginal estrogen to relieve dryness and soreness, but not to address wrinkles. “At the end of the day, what it feels like is far more important than what it looks like,” she says.