Many women experience vaginal atrophy, a consequence of lack of the estrogen hormone. Symptoms include vaginal dryness, vaginal burning, and painful intercourse. In treating vaginal atrophy, hormone replacement therapy may not be the best choice, or even an option, for many patients.
At Naperville Women’s Healthcare, we offer the most advanced technology in the treatment of vaginal atrophy, MonaLisa Touch.
MonaLisa Touch is a medical laser that delivers controlled energy to the vaginal tissue to restore the cells in the vaginal mucosa. Restored cells produce more collagen, an essential ingredient in vaginal cell health.
MonaLisa Touch implements CO2 laser energy which is delivered through the sides of a probe that is inserted into the vaginal canal. The two-part pulse targets the vagina’s surface and deep tissues, the epithelial and lamina propria tissue, to promote vaginal restoration.
MonaLisa Touch provides two types of treatment, internal and external, with treatment times ranging from five to ten minutes. The procedure requires three treatments that are spaced over a twelve-week period.
The internal procedure is virtually painless and requires no anesthesia. With the external procedure, an anesthetic cream is applied to the vulva to ease any discomfort.
Most patients feel improvement after the first treatment and there is minimal recovery time. Intercourse can resume three days after an internal treatment and seven days after an external treatment.
MonaLisa Touch is FDA approved and is an in-office procedure. Treatments are provided safely in the comfort of our office.
At Naperville Women’s Healthcare, we are experienced in the physical and emotional implications of patients with vaginal atrophy and we are committed to vaginal restoration.
Interview with Dr. Mickey Karram, Professor of OB / GYN and Urology at the University of Cincinnati
and MonaLisa Touch patient, Lisa Elliot.
MonaLisa Touch; laser therapy for vaginal restoration. Procedure overview.
How a Laser for Your Vagina Can Prevent ‘Sandpaper Sex’
In spite of the many safe options to treat what I’ve dubbed sandpaper sex, only 7 percent of affected women use a prescription product that goes beyond what a lubricant or a long-acting moisturizer can do to alleviate dry, painful intercourse.
There are a number of reasons that this number is so low:
Many women are not distressed by the inability to have intercourse; they think it’s not important enough to treat.
Some women don’t want (or can’t afford) to use a pharmaceutical product on a regular basis.
Many women, despite reassurances, are concerned about side effects from local vaginal estrogen or Osphena (ospemifene) tablets.
Often, women’s physicians advise against using local vaginal estrogen, sometimes for medical reasons.
If you fall into the first category, you probably stopped reading this article already. But the other categories are a different story, and those women either abandon sexual activity altogether or put up with the pain. In fact, in the 2013 Revive survey of sexual behavior in more than 3,000 postmenopausal women, 73 percent admitted they silently endured painful intercourse to please their partner.
But there’s a solution for women who prefer not to use estrogen or have been advised to avoid it: vaginal laser treatments, a new non-estrogen option to treat vaginal dryness and thinning. You read that right. Not only can you laser your face smooth, laser your pubic hair away, and laser off regrettable tattoos – now you can also laser your vagina.
How Laser Treatment for Vaginal Dryness Works
The Mona Lisa Touch is an FDA-approved medical carbon dioxide (CO2) laser that delivers controlled energy to both the surface and the deeper layers of vaginal tissue to stimulate your cells to make more collagen. The result is restoration of the normal lubrication and elasticity that had vanished as a consequence of menopause or cancer treatments.
The laser treatment involves three five-minute sessions performed in a doctor’s office, spaced six weeks apart. No anesthesia is required, and most women report feeling only gentle vibration while a slender laser probe is in the vagina.
Women in a recently presented clinical trial reported that after the treatment, they had significantly less dryness, pain, and irritation, along with a dramatic improvement in sexual pleasure.
So what are the downsides of vaginal laser treatment? Really only two things.
First, there have been no long-term studies on the procedure, though it’s unlikely to have long-term adverse effects. And second, it’s hard to say how long the results will last. After the initial three treatments, the manufacturer recommends one treatment every year to maintain the results. The U.S. study included only 30 women, but vaginal laser treatment has been used both here and in Europe in thousands of women. In clinical studies, the overwhelming majority of women are pleased with the results.
The main problem is that medical CO2 laser treatments for vaginal dryness are expensive and not covered by insurance: Three treatments are in the neighborhood of $3,000. If the results last for years, clearly the procedure is worth it, but you still have to come up with the cash. One woman told me the choice was between pleasurable sex for a year, or a vacation in Florida for a week. She chose sex for a year.
Whether you choose a local vaginal estrogen, Osphena (ospemifene) tablets, or vaginal laser treatment, there is no reason to grit your teeth and endure painful sex – or avoid sex altogether. Mona Lisa should not be the only one smiling.