Many women, during their menopausal phase, get stuck with vaginal atrophy, which means the walls of vagina become thinner, drier and are more inflamed. Atrophy leads to dyspareunia or painful intercourse. Vaginal atrophy happens because estrogen levels plummet. Untreated vaginal atrophy causes itchiness and burning.
The first course of treatment should be estrogen. It can be done through oral hormone replacement therapy or through localized estrogen – creams, suppositories and rings.
Vaginal laser surgery is a relatively new treatment also known as the MonaLisa Touch. It treats vaginal atrophy, urinary incontinence associated with it, vaginal epithelial lesions like endometriosis, cysts, septae and vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia. It is also used to treat lichen sclerosis, a chronic problem of thinning and irritation of the vulvar skin. Laser therapies are medical treatments which use focused light. Vaginal laser surgery was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for gynecological use in 2014. The carbon dioxide laser with a wavelength of 10,600 nm is the ideal laser for the aforementioned clinical applications. It is mandatory to have a pretreatment evaluation using colposcopically directed biopsies. During the treatment, a wand is inserted into the vagina, where the laser makes miniscule injuries to the vaginal walls. The body responds by creating new collagen and encouraging blood flow and healthy tissue growth which elicits a healing response. This thickens the vaginal walls with stronger and more elastic tissue and new blood vessels, and serves the secondary purpose of propping up the urethra and bladder, which helps the incontinence issues. In other words, the process remodels the vagina with healthier tissue. This treatment isn’t as painful as laser tattoo removal or laser skin resurfacing. There are lesser pain receptors in the vagina than there are on the skin, and these laser pin pricks don’t penetrate very deep. Moreover, the treatment takes only about ten minutes. Patients going for MonaLisa Touch are advised to take a course of three treatments, spaced six weeks apart. The price for this treatment ranges from $500-1000 per treatment, I.e. $1500-3000 for a series of treatments. So, cost becomes an important factor in determining whether to opt for the treatment. The treatment has no known side effects.