Symptoms like mood swings, weight gain and hot flashes have become synonymous with menopause. Fortunately, while these symptoms can be unpleasant, they usually aren’t painful. But others, like burning, itching and bleeding, can be.
These symptoms are due to vaginal atrophy, a condition that refers to the thinning, drying, and inflammation of the vaginal walls as a result of a drop in estrogen production during menopause. Nearly half of menopausal women experience vaginal atrophy, but many suffer silently. Those who do seek help for their symptoms often find their treatment options limited.
A new treatment recently could change that.
Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of menopause symptoms, the MonaLisa Touch is a laser treatment that improves blood flow to the vaginal tissue and regenerates vaginal cells to stimulate collagen development. Renewed collagen development helps to combat the symptoms of vaginal atrophy, which can help reduce painful symptoms like painful urination, vaginal dryness, and discomfort or bleeding during intercourse.
Though MonaLisa Touch isn’t the first treatment for vaginal atrophy, it is the first of its kind. Previously, estrogen creams were considered the best treatment option for women with the condition.
“Estrogen creams can be effective, but they can also be expensive and require women to reapply cream daily and weekly, and there’s no guarantee that they work. The MonaLisa Touch procedure is a quicker, more cost-effective option that provides better relief,” explains Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick.
The MonaLisa Touch treatment is performed in your physician’s office with no anesthesia, and takes less than five minutes to complete. During the procedure, your physician will insert the MonaLisa Touch laser, a vaginal probe, into your vagina and deliver a series of gentle laser energy pulses. These pulses are painless for most patients, though some women may experience mild discomfort as a result of vaginal dryness.
For the best results, women are advised to receive three MonaLisa Touch treatments over the course of 18 weeks. But you don’t have to wait that long to notice results, says Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick.
“The results vary for everyone, but most women begin to notice their symptoms getting better right away, even as soon as after the first and second treatments,” she says.
After the first year, women should visit their physician annually for one-session ‘touch-ups,’ says Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick.
Despite new treatment options like MonaLisa Touch and increased awareness about vaginal atrophy, many women are still hesitant to speak up about their symptoms. Regardless of what treatment you and your physician determine is right for you, Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick encourages women to discuss any unpleasant, uncomfortable, or painful menopause symptoms with their physician. Although MonaLisa Touch could be beneficial for women during menopause, Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick says the treatment can also help women who are experiencing a drop in estrogen levels as a result of breast cancer, birth control use, or other hormonal changes by improving collagen in the tissue.
Main Line Health's gynecologists provide expertise in a wide range of services, from adolescence through the post-menopausal period. Visit our website to learn more about our women's health services.