Treating Vaginal Atrophy: Mona Lisa Touch Therapy
A common complaint of postmenopausal women is vaginal atrophy. After menopause, the vaginal tissue changes, which can cause dryness, burning, itching, recurrent urinary tract infections and pain with intercourse. As if enduring menopause wasn’t enough, these postmenopausal symptoms can be both uncomfortable and interfere with your lifestyle.
What is vaginal atrophy?
The vaginal tissue – or vaginal epithelium – contains estrogen receptors. During menopause, the circulating levels of estrogen decline causing a decrease in collagen, resulting in thinner, less elastic vaginal tissue. With less water and natural lubrication, women have more tenderness, itching and irritation. Changes in vaginal pH can make women more susceptible to vaginal infections. Some women may even experience bladder infections from the thinned, dry tissue’s inability to resist the migration of bacteria up into the bladder through the urethra.
Until recently, estrogen therapy was the only effective treatment for vaginal atrophy. Treatment can take the form of an estrogen cream applied locally or inserted as a vaginal pill or silastic ring.
Many women choose not to use local estrogen therapy, perhaps because they’re cancer survivors or sensitive to the concerns around hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and the risk of breast cancer. Others may have a contraindication, like a history of stroke or a blood clot that was attributed to previous HRT. And some simply don’t want the hassle of using the cream twice per week or changing out the silastic ring.
More recently, a new oral medication, ospemifene or Osphena®, has been promoted as a non-estrogen treatment for vaginal atrophy, but this medication actually stimulates the estrogen receptors on estrogen-sensitive tissues in the same way that estrogen does. In other words, the same risks that are associated with estrogen therapy are associated with ospemifene.
Regardless of the reason, we now have a new non-hormonal option to treat vaginal atrophy and other vulvar disorders (like lichen sclerosus).
Mona Lisa Touch® Therapy
Mona Lisa Touch® therapy utilizes CO2 laser technology to encourage the re-collagenization of the vaginal epithelium, which increases moisture, normalizes pH and improves vaginal comfort.
Therapy consists of three painless 5-minute laser energy treatments spaced six weeks apart and done in the office without anesthesia. The process is simple – no recovery or downtime needed – and patients find relief and improvement starting with the first treatment.
While Mona Lisa Touch® therapy is relatively new, the research is promising, which is further reinforced by the thousands of women who have had favorable outcomes after treatment.