My gynecologist stood up from between the stirrups, peeled off her surgical gloves with a snap, and said, “you have a loss of vulvar architecture.”
“Post-menopausal women commonly lose physical definition of the vulva,” she said.
Is this something ELSE I need to maintain? I can’t exercise my vulva like I do my ass to keep it lifted off the back of my thighs. Can I?
Thankfully I can’t see my vulva in the 10X magnification mirror—the one I need to apply under-eye cream for the wrinkles and serum to re-grow my lashes, and to pluck the gray hairs from my eyebrows. I’m not going to worry about the place down there that no one will see except maybe a middle-aged man when he’s “breathing new life into me” but would need his readers and a flashlight to notice my lady bits were waning.
“Hey babe,” he’d say from between my legs looking across my hilly torso of stretch marks. “Your major and minor labias are starting to coalesce.”
“Take off your glasses.”
The next week I visited my dentist. He poked around another hole, stuck my gums with a small weapon of torture, and said, “everything looks good but that tooth may need some restoration,” like he was an inspector in the basement of my vintage home pointing out the rotting foundation. Then I realized, my body IS vintage! And apparently, it’s rotting, too.
She’s a Brick House has taken on a whole new meaning—one that requires its bricks to be repointed after fifty years.
Last year at a visit with my ENT doctor, after peering into yet another hole, he said, “your ear drums are floppy.”
“Like my upper arms??”
“I don’t know about your arms, but…”
“…never mind,” I said, distracting him with the flapping skin hanging from my biceps.
After hearing these words about deterioration from my doctors, I welcomed the report of “unremarkable” after my vaginal ultrasound. I usually like to stand out from the crowd, but in this case, being unexceptional was acceptable.
I was totally okay that my reproductive organs were past their expiration date. When I was 49, at an annual well-woman visit to the GYN, I reported that it had been a few months since my last period. Even though I was peri-menopausal, the doctor insisted on a test.
I texted my then-husband: Taking a pregnancy test (winky face with the tongue emoji)
Him: screaming emoji
While I waited those three minutes for the results, I prayed, ‘God, please let my insides be much older than my face appears.’ Then I sighed when I remembered my husband had had a vasectomy.
An hour later, my husband texted: ????!!!
I couldn’t resist leaving him hanging a bit longer before texting back: All clear
I may have lucked out in the genes department when it comes to my face, but unfortunately I inherited grandma’s breasts that require new support beams, her neck that could use a re-stretch like an old carpet, and Nana’s patchy eyebrows that need to be refilled with tromp d’oeil. I feel like a tragic episode of This Old House.
Bob Vila: “After years of neglect, my top-notch rehab team will try some invasive surgery and magical creams in the hopes of bringing this mid-century beauty back to how she looked—maybe if we’re lucky—to the 2010s”
Believe me, I’m all for aging gracefully and support the body-positive movement. I look at myself in the mirror and think, I’m not SO bad. I actually look pretty sexy in a lacy balconette bra and matching panties (thank god for the trendy high-waisted style—am I right, ladies?) And when it’s time to take them off for sexy time? I turn off the lights and hide his glasses.