Vaginal Laser. Written By: Dr Serena Cardoso – BHSc, MB BCh (WITS), DipPEC (SA).
Jenna* is statuesque, funny and frank. She appears to be in her late 40s and often talks about her husband in our consultations. On the surface they seem to be incredibly happy together and very much in love. However, at a recent visit she described some of the challenges she’s been having with early menopause and its baring on their romantic relationship. “The aging face I can take but aging down below is really getting to me,” she confided in me during a consult in December, “I love having sex with my husband! We used to be like rabbits but I just don’t enjoy sex like I did before. Something’s changed. I struggle with orgasms and dryness. I’m on everything you can think of. Testosterone cream, estrogens, progesterone, you name it. It’s getting a bit better but I don’t think it helps having had three kids naturally either.”
Vaginal Laxity Following Childbirth
A women’s ability to bear children is an incredible feat of physiology; it is a process that spans from one’s very first menses, through the reproductive years and finally to menopause, and it presents itself with interesting challenges. Some of those challenges have a significant bearing on our sexual functioning, and this is an important aspect of our lives we often don’t talk about. Those fortunate enough to have been able to deliver their children vaginally, like Jenna, may later complain of laxity and depending on how difficult the delivery was may develop loss of bladder control. Previously, the only thing to be done about it were invasive surgical procedures, not without their own risks and downtime.
Genitourinary Symptoms of Menopause
At around 50 years old, give or take a few years, the process of menopause begins. A rite of passage into one’s golden years. The ovaries slowly reduce their production of hormones, which then manifests in the form of mood swings, sleep disturbances, and those dreaded hot flushes.
Other symptoms may be:
- vaginal dryness;
- bladder symptoms such as urgency, frequency, and stress incontinence (leakage of urine that typically occurs when one coughs or sneezes);
- lack of lubrication with sexual stimulation, changes in desire and libido;
- the outer labia and vulva appear less plump;
- the inner tissues more pale and less pink.
Most of these symptoms can be alleviated with Menopause Hormone Therapy (MHT). However, there are women who don’t desire hormone treatments and may not be able to take them due to a history of cancer, liver or heart disease. And there are those women on full doses of MHT who perhaps require a bit of a boost.
Nonsurgical vulvo-vaginal rejuvenation is a very exciting field involving aesthetic medicine, dermatology, gynecology and sexology. It follows the trend toward less invasive, non-surgical approaches to aging and wellness with less cost and downtime. Safe, tolerable and with intriguing data to support its use, we decided to introduce CORE Intima Treatment into our practice. CORE Intima is the crème de la crème of fractioned vaginal laser technology designed specifically for the treatment of the symptoms of menopause and/or vaginal delivery.
With the use of vaginal laser, studies have found that sexual function and quality of life may improve to a meaningful degree and tissues may regain their pre-menopausal status. The available studies consistently indicate alleviation of all symptoms of menopause. Data shows that women experience an 80% improvement in dryness that lasts 12 to 18 months after a series of three monthly vaginal laser treatments. The data also show 60-70% improvement in urinary symptoms. Women have also seen improvements in orgasmic function.
So how exactly does laser work for vaginal aging?
Through the mechanisms of menopause, there is less oestrogen to maintain vaginal mucosa as it was during child bearing years. When we see signs of aging in our faces, a very similar process in taking place in our vaginas. It may be more noticeable because of how much more sensitive that tissue is to decreased levels of oestrogen. The lining of the vagina dries and becomes very thin, formed by fewer cell layers. The deeper connective tissue layers that provide strength and support regress back.
This promising news is that with the application of laser we notice stimulation within all the layers of the vaginal mucosa. When we look down the microscope at these tissues after laser we observe the formation of millions of new baby blood vessels. Vessels allow for more nutrients, moisture and oxygen to be delivered to the tissues. More blood vessels result in more superficial epithelial cells that make and release glycogen: a natural probiotic and food for our friendly local lactobacillus. This is an important symbiotic bacteria that lives with us as part of our microbiome. It has an important role in fighting off yeast infections and other nasty bugs. With laser, we also notice the increased production of new fibroblasts cells that create and maintain collagen resulting in stronger, tighter tissues and less vaginal looseness. Through all these cellular processes fractional CO2 vaginal laser aesthetically improves vulvovaginal complaints and restores a youthful genitalia.
Women, as they are in most spheres of their beauty regimes, are moving towards less invasive, natural procedures that can assist and CO2 laser meets those requirements. Younger women who have looseness and bladder problems following childbirth may not desire surgical treatments making the non-evasive vaginal laser rejuvenation very appealing.
Jenna was treated with three sessions of laser combined with the O-Shot. In feedback sessions she noticed a significant improvement in her sex life including more frequent orgasms that are easier to reach and come with better lubrication. Her husband and she noticed the difference in vaginal tightness and we’ve had similar reports from all the patients we’ve treated so far. Jenna has been able to stop testosterone treatment and now continues only with a bit of oestrogen cream. Vaginal laser has safely and naturally given her the boost she needed. Many women experience vaginal complaints, and it’s an important aspect of our health and aging that can easily be addressed.
Aging gracefully isn’t just about zapping crow’s feet with a needle; it’s about enjoying our bodies, our relationships, and maintaining confidence!
*Based on a real consultation, patient’s name has been changed to protect privacy and confidentiality