Morphology and physiological changes of genital skin and mucosa.
The morphology and physiology of both the vulva and vagina undergo characteristic age-related changes over a lifetime. At birth, these tissues exhibit the effects of residual maternal estrogens. During puberty, the vulva and vagina mature under the influence of adrenal and gonadal steroid hormones. During the reproductive years, the vagina responds to ovarian steroid hormone cycling, and both tissues adapt to the needs of pregnancy and delivery. Following menopause, the vulva and vagina atrophy. A rise in the prevalence of incontinence among older women increases the risk of vulvar and perineal dermatitis. This chapter covers the morphology and physiology of the genital area from infancy to old age.
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