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Vaginal Rugae

Definition - What does Vaginal Rugae mean?

Vaginal rugae are bumps and pleats on the surface of the vagina that function to make the organ more stretchable and elastic so that it can return to its original state after stretching out during sex or childbirth.

Because these folds help the vagina to expand and relax during sex and delivery, their absence can make intercourse and childbirth difficult, thus, potentially interfering with a woman’s reproductive potential.

FertilitySmarts explains Vaginal Rugae

The shape and presence of vaginal rugae are constantly changing throughout the lifetime of a woman. They are influenced by hormones (in particular, estrogen), menstrual cycles, puberty, childbirth, and menopause.

The following factors can cause the vaginal rugae to flatten and ultimately disappear:

  • Increasing age (the rugae flatten as women age and completely disappear in some)
  • Estrogen deficiency as occurs after menopause (estrogen helps maintain the rugae while its lack makes them less prominent)
  • Childbirth (the rugae are more pronounced in women who have not given any birth as compared to women with multiple children. They completely relax during childbirth to facilitate the process)
  • Prolapse of pelvic structures



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