“The MonaLisa Touch uses a fractional CO2 laser to treat vaginal atrophy. Designed specifically for vaginal tissues, it stimulates cells in the vaginal wall to improve blood flow, elastin, and vaginal secretions. Approved by the FDA last year, this treatment has been used
for more than five years in Europe with good results. Beyond treating the immediate symptoms of vaginal atrophy, it may help bladder irritation and urgency triggered by the vagina staying dry for a long period of time.”
It’s been called a “silent epidemic.” Vaginal atrophy, which refers to the thinning of the wall of the vagina, occurs in up to 75% of all women. Yet few are willing to talk about it.
What Happens with Atrophy Before a woman begins menopause, the hormone estrogen keeps the skin of her vagina healthy and stimulates vaginal secretion. However, as she ages and her ovaries stop making this hormone, the walls of her vagina may thin and become red, itchy, and dry. Over time, the vaginal opening itself may also narrow and shrink, causing sex to become increasingly painful. Vaginal atrophy may also lead to or increase your risk of irritable bladder symptoms.
But while certain age-related changes may be inevitable, you don’t have to live with this discomfort. Today there are more treatments than ever.
Seeking Care If you’re experiencing painful sex that’s not resolved with a vaginal moisturizer or lubricant, make an appointment with your primary care provider or OB-GYN. After a thorough discussion of your symptoms and pelvic exam, your doctor can help determine the best treatment options for you. Treatment options include:
Topical Hormone Treatments Estrogen is available in the form of a vaginal cream, flexible ring, or disposable tablet. These lower-dose options can effectively treat atrophy with a minimal effect on other parts of the body.
Hormone Therapy Estrogen is also available in the form of a tablet, pill, or patch. However, due to certain potential side effects, hormone therapy is not for everyone. Be sure to ask your doctor to explain the risks and benefits.
Laser Treatment Approved by the FDA in 2014, the MonaLisa Touch uses a laser to stimulate collagen stores in the vagina. Women who choose this procedure typically undergo three painless, three-minute laser sessions scheduled six weeks apart. It is a safe option for breast cancer patients.
Speaking Up If you are suffering from symptoms of vaginal atrophy in silence, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. While you may feel reluctance, vaginal atrophy is nothing to be embarrassed about, and physicians are ready to help. Your health and well-being are in your hands. Don’t wait!
Annual Advancements in Medicine Section From minimally invasive surgical technologies to innovative appproaches to rehabiliation and beyond, new research in the …