Innovation in medical care occurs at an astounding rate. Nowhere is this more apparent than with laser technology. This new application is set to disrupt the field of treatment of urinary and vaginal problems in gynaecology!
When I was first introduced to the new Er:Yag laser machine ,I had difficulty containing my excitement…the possibilities were amazing… and SOO many benefits to my patients…
I have started using it in my practice, and after just one treatment patients are already experiencing fantastic results….
So what is this all about? This blog is the first a series of three.
I will focus on 3 specific areas that women experience problems in. Areas where vaginal laser will now become a game- changer .
POST MENOPAUSAL VAGINAL REJUVENATION
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE OF GYNAECOLOGY!
Having a baby is one of the most emotional, rewarding , and life changing experiences a woman can go through…
First , there is the pregnancy…
Then the process of childbirth – natural or caesarean section…
holding your baby for the first time…Bliss…
Then it’s the recovery… huge adjustments in your relationship with your partner and……also.. your relationship with your new body. What drastic changes!
Every woman asks herself…WILL I EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN?
One of the most distressing things to a new mother, and I have seen this in my practice time and time again is “will I ever enjoy sex again?”
“What has happened to my vagina now that 3kg of baby has gone through it.”
“Will it ever shrink back to normal?”
The questions are mostly asked after a vaginal birth-especially if it was long and difficult.
Clinical research has shown that no matter how easy a vaginal birth has seemed, there is always some damage to the connective tissue and muscles in the vaginal and pelvic area. This may not be obvious at first, but with repeated vaginal births ,aging and the ever present effect of gravity, it can show up later in life as a vagina that feels “too loose” during intercourse.
Vaginal laxity is often not spoken about…A taboo subject…. Women in my practice seldom volunteer this information unless I specifically ask about it. Even then ,a great deal of embarassment occurs.
This very real problem can lead to significant relationship issues, affecting intimacy between even strongly committed partners.
Many times it does not stop there .There is also the problem of simultaneously leaking urine. Thankfully in some instances this is temporary. In many instances it can be permanent.
GOOD NEWS : there are treatment options!
The very first thing to do is make sure that the healing of any tears and medical cuts like episiotomies are complete. Your gynaecologist or midwife can advise you of this at your 6week post- natal check up.
Once you have the all clear, start exercising your pelvic floor muscles(Kegels exercises). This will improve the tone and strength. This can improve laxity and urine leaks and even prevent them from happening. Results may not be immediate and improvements may only be noticed after a few weeks. Important to note is that the exercises need to be maintained. If you stop , muscles will weaken again and the problem is likely to recur.
KEGELS EXERCISES :Squeeze the muscles between your legs like you would, to stop your urine stream in midflow. Now hold for ten seconds. Release. Repeat .
You can practice in the toilet during actual urination to get the muscle action correct. Once you know how ,you can do the exercises anywhere ,anytime. I advise that you associate it with something you do every day, like brushing your teeth. Do it then. After 30 days of doing at least 10 -20 repetitions daily it becomes a habit that you are very likely to maintain.
These exercises can also be guided by a good physiotherapist working with pelvic floor problems. Various devices have been developed to help. Vaginal weights are useful. Also of benefit is a technique called biofeedback. With this method, small electrical impulses guide muscle strengthening .
If you have tried all these treatments with limited or no success , then vaginal laser becomes an option. Treatment is done in the rooms with no or just very little topical local anaesthetic cream. It may involve 2 to 3 treatment sessions each lasting approximately 30minutes .Treatments are spaced about 4 weeks apart. The only restriction is no intercourse for 1 week after each treatment session while healing occurs. Because we age, touch up treatments may be necessary every 18 months.
The laser probe goes into the vagina and the laser itself has a thermal effect on the tissues of the vagina. It causes a tightening effect that is ongoing even after the treatment is complete. New collagen formation and increased blood supply to the treated area occurs. This improves the final therapeutic effect.
Surgery to tighten a lax vagina can also be performed. The results are not always ideal and so it is mainly reserved as a last resort. Of course, there are risks associated with the anaesthesia as well as the surgery itself. Worsening urinary incontinence, painful intercourse and difficulty passing stool are all recognised complications that can occur after surgery.
Remember, speak to your doctor to discuss the options that are best for you!