Everything you need to know, but don’t want to ask
What is Vaginal Atrophy?
Atrophy, a decrease in size or wasting away of a body part or tissue, is not what we want to happen to any part of our body, especially our vaginas. I’m often surprised that many women have never heard of this term and younger women put their hands over their ears in disgust, believing it is too far away to think about. Vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis happens to all women to some extent. If you use estrogen, it happens less severely and symptoms from person to person vary considerably.
What causes vaginal atrophy?
As we age, we lose collagen and elastin in all parts of our body. We notice it visually the most in our face, but it also happens in our vagina. Loss of collagen and elastin means that we lose the rugae and plumpness of the tissue. The estrogen also dips and the results are a complete change in the environment. Our pH increases which means a shift in the amount and types of bacteria present. We lose the superficial cells that are more protective and secrete mucous. We also lose blood supply to the area which changes the color from a vibrant pink to a glassy pale pink.
why should I treat vaginal atrophy?
Vaginal Atrophy is uncomfortable. It is especially uncomfortable during sexual intercourse. The ability to lubricate drops significantly so the dryness causes pain without added lubricants. The tissue is thinner and more easily torn, so there are often microtears after friction. The high pH and the change in the environment can also cause inflammation that can mimic a yeast or bacterial infection. Over time, your vagina narrows in what is called vaginal stenosis.
What can I do to avoid this problem?
Everyone will have some changes due to the aging process. Using vaginal estrogen or vaginal DHEA as you enter perimenopause will slow the process. If you cannot use estrogen or you are on estrogen blockers, your symptoms may be more severe at an earlier age. Now, you also have the ability to reset the clock by using laser technology. This has been called vaginal rejuvenation.
What is vaginal rejuvenation with a laser?
We’ve used C02 laser devices for aging face because of their ability to create younger skin by increasing collagen, elastin and tightening. These same devices can be used with different intensity to treat the vagina. A vaginal sheath is placed over the laser and introduced into the vagina. Pulses of energy are applied in a circumferential pattern to treat the full vagina. And, we see return of blood flow, improved color, increased collagen, lowering of the pH as a result of this simple treatment.
Is Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Painful?
The probe is introduced vaginally, so there is vaginal pressure. The laser internally does not hurt. As the laser treats the end of the vagina, then you can feel the heat sensation and may have minor discomfort. If a patient wants to treat the external labia for aesthetic enhancement, then we use topical numbing medicine as external treatment is slightly uncomfortable.
results After Non-surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation
Most patients experience improvement in symptoms within a few weeks after the first treatment. We recommend three treatments separated by four-week intervals to complete the series. Then, return if you feel dryness returning for a single update treatment. This may be necessary in 12-24 months following the initial series.