A subject that eventually affects all women, but is spoken about rarely, is menopause. Even less spoken about is a condition that occurs around 3-4 years after menopause and affects around 50 percent of all women (and 60% of breast cancer survivors who experience induced menopause). The condition is called genito-urinary syndrome of menopause, or GSM for short (also referred to as Vaginal Atrophy).
Not every woman will have physical or emotional symptoms of menopause. However, at least 60 percent will experience mild to moderate symptoms, with 20 percent of women considered to suffer severe symptoms which impact upon their quality of life.
A range of symptoms can occur including mood changes, hot flushes, memory effects, sleep disturbance, bone and joint pain and changes in sexuality and libido. Some of these effects can be short term and pass with time. However, in contrast the menopause symptoms related to GSM / vaginal atrophy will continue to get worse with time and include:
- Vaginal Dryness and Discomfort
- Bladder and Urinary Symptoms
- Vaginal itching
- Vaginal laxity
- Loss of lubrication
- Pain during intercourse
The lack of moisture or lubrication in this area can be very distressing and result in an itching or burning sensation and painful intercourse. A dry and painful vagina also has a major impact on sexual sensation and satisfaction.
In some cases, women can cease having intercourse altogether due to the associated discomfort. This can cause further emotional distress and affect personal relationships. To add to this distress, women often feel pressured to ‘just deal with it – naturally’. Not unlike the pressure women can feel to have a natural childbirth.
But there is no need to suffer now when there are remedies that work. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the medical replacement of the female hormones, with lasers the relatively new treatment for vaginal atrophy. The fractionated and special thermal effect caused by a laser encourages renewed functional activity in the treated sections of tissue and produces excellent results, previously not possible.
The lasers work by stimulating regeneration of the vaginal mucosa with new collagen fibre production, which thickens and strengthens the vaginal structure. Lasers are proving to be safe alternatives to drug therapy and may provide greater all round relief from vaginal atrophy symptoms compared to HRT, with a longer period of symptom-free life after treatment.
MonaLisa Touch is a the first such laser treatment with a number of years research behind it that indicates it to be safe alternatives to drug therapy and may provide greater all round relief from vaginal atrophy symptoms compared to HRT, with a longer period of symptom-free life after treatment.
There are a number of laser therapies emerging with the major difference being if the treatment is using ablative fractional laser (Dots of laser separated by untouched tissue as used in MonaLisa Touch) or sub-ablative full surface coverage. The benefit of the fractional ablative treatments is that it can be performed in a single-pass, ie. The probe is inserted and then the treatment is done in one pass as it is removed.
Because tissue affected by vaginal atrophy is thin and frail patients generally find single pass treatments more comfortable and the treatment is completed in short time. Sub-ablative, non-fractional treatments require the laser to go back and forth over the tissue up to five times which is can be painful and the treatment can require the laser to remain inserted for 20-30 minutes. The added risk that comes with multiple pass treatments is that treating the tissue more than once brings in risk of overtreatment and burns that are not present in single pass treatments.
In general the laser procedures require no prior preparation by the patient, needing no anaesthesia, with each session being relatively short. In the case of MonaLisa the application of the laser only takes 3-5 minutes. Treatment is relatively painless so no anaesthetic is required and there are no incisions or stitches. See my experience here.
The MonaLisa Touch laser has undergone extensive peer-reviewed clinical trials and patient studies and received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of vaginal atrophy symptoms.
The MonaLisa Touch laser is garnering exceptional results for nearly all patients. It is a quick, non-hormonal, non-surgical and highly effective CO2 laser for the treatment for vaginal atrophy and urinary incontinence symptoms. In addition, the laser has an immediate tightening and toning effect on the vaginal structure.
Whilst relatively new, the MonaLisa Touch treatment has been used in Australia since January 2013, with thousands of treatments now successfully performed here. Unlike current treatment options, the MonaLisa Touch uniquely addresses the cause of vaginal atrophy, rather than simply working on the symptoms itself.
The MonaLisa Touch counteracts the effects of vaginal atrophy by specifically stimulating collagen formation beneath the vaginal skin, promoting proliferation of the cells and restoring vaginal wall health, strength and blood supply. This creates long-lasting relief and offers a new and effective treatment for women who were previously unsuitable for existing HRT and drug-therapy treatments.
Whilst all patients with vaginal atrophy symptoms may benefit, patients who especially benefit from the MonaLisa Touch include women with breast cancer or who have had radiotherapy. It is also beneficial to women with vaginal atrophy who haven’t responded to topical HRT treatment.
The MonaLisa Touch treatment option adds a new dimension to the treatment of this important health issue for women. It provides the ability to stimulate the natural regeneration of the vaginal tissue and counteract the negative physical and emotional effects of vaginal atrophy.
To find a practitioner for the MonaLisa Touch treatment, click here.