Menopause brings a lot of changes, some of them welcome and some of them pretty unpleasant. Most women are prepared for the most-talked-about symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes, night sweats and irritability. But there’s one side effect of menopause that doesn’t get nearly as much “press,” even though it can be even more uncomfortable than the more common symptoms: vaginal atrophy.
Most of us think of estrogen as being strictly related to periods and ovulation. But like other hormones, estrogen plays a much more varied role in women’s health. And when estrogen levels drop during perimenopause and menopause, it can take a major toll on the health and wellness of your vagina. Your vagina depends on an ample supply of estrogen to stay lubricated and supple. For many women, declining estrogen levels cause the vaginal walls to become dry and thin, and that means sex can become extremely painful.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be effective in preventing vaginal dryness and painful sex, but many women don’t want to be “locked in” to years of hormone medications, which can have some pretty serious side effects of their own. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to HRT that can help restore your vagina and eliminate painful sex, all without drugs or surgery. It’s called MonaLisa Touch®, and it’s a state-of-the-art vaginal rejuvenation system that relies on the power of lasers to improve the health of the vaginal tissues.
Menopause and vaginal atrophy
During our childbearing years, estrogen levels are at their peak. In addition to regulating menstruation, estrogen also plays important roles in maintaining the entire reproductive tract, including the vagina, and in keeping the body’s mucous membranes healthy. As you get closer to menopause, estrogen levels begin to decline. That’s when most women begin to experience symptoms of vaginal dryness (and other annoying issues like hot flashes and night sweats). Once you’re in menopause and your estrogen levels are at their lowest, those “annoying” symptoms can truly become life-altering, especially if you experience significant vaginal dryness.
Dryness and discomfort are symptoms of another condition called vaginal atrophy, which occurs when the tissues of the vagina lose some of their elasticity, thickness and lubrication due to a decline in estrogen. When the vaginal tissues are thin and dry, you’re far more likely to experience significant discomfort during intercourse when friction can cause significant irritation in the vaginal tissues. But as upsetting as painful sex can be, it’s not the only side effect of vaginal atrophy. Other problems include:
- vaginal burning and itching
- bleeding after intercourse
- painful urination
- increased risk of infections
Sometimes, the vagina can become so dry and thin, it can make other activities like riding a bike or hiking uncomfortable as well. And in some cases, atrophy can lead to incontinence.
Vaginal restoration with MonaLisa Touch
The MonaLisa Touch uses laser energy to help restore vaginal elasticity and lubrication so vaginal health is maintained naturally, despite lower levels of estrogen. The device itself is wand-shaped and designed to fit comfortably inside your vagina. In fact, unlike other laser devices that have multiple uses, the MonaLisa Touch was designed expressly and exclusively to treat the vagina and surrounding tissues.
During your treatment, the wand is inserted into your vagina and the doctor controls the emission of laser energy all along the interior walls of your vagina. As the laser penetrates the vaginal tissue, the gentle heat stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, naturally occurring fibers that keep the vagina supple, strong and toned. In addition, the laser energy promotes better circulation in the area for optimal health and healing, and it also spurs production of hyaluronic acid, which is also important for maintaining the health of the mucosal tissues that line the vagina. By tapping into your body’s ability to heal and maintain itself, you can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of vaginal atrophy without turning to hormone medications. Treatment takes about five minutes, and there's no downtime, so you can get back to your regular routine right away.
Put an end to painful intercourse
Vaginal dryness is a common side effect of menopause, but that doesn’t mean you need to live with it. At Premier Women's Care of Southwest Florida, we can help you take control of your vaginal health and put an end to painful intercourse, and we can help you do it without HRT. To learn how the MonaLisa Touch can help you avoid vaginal atrophy, contact the practice today.