Childbirth and menopause take their toll, but until recently, millions of women have been left to suffer unwanted effects like loosening of the pelvic floor, excessive dryness, urinary incontinence, and painful intercourse largely in silence. Now, thanks to the growing popularity of a previously taboo range of procedures known as vaginal rejuvenation, women have a way to improve or even conquer these symptoms without the use of potentially risky hormone therapy.
Vaginal Atrophy After Menopause
While many women assume that menopause symptoms only last for a short period of time, millions have learned the hard way that these symptoms can persist for a decade or longer.
During menopause, estrogen levels decrease drastically along with other hormones. This hormonal decline leads to changes in the bladder, vulva, and vagina in particular. Estrogen helps keep the vagina flexible and lubricated so women of a certain age will notice vaginal tightness and dryness. These age-related symptoms can interfere with a relationship and make sex difficult or even painful. The condition even has a name: genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). It’s believed that about half of post-menopausal women experience GSM which can also cause burning sensations in the genitals, painful urination, an urgent need to urinate, and recurrent urinary tract infections.
You can’t pick up a women’s magazine or watch television without seeing advertisements for a vast array of products — both prescription and over-the-counter — aimed at fighting menopause symptoms like vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. Oral medication containing estrogen can treat these vaginal symptoms and other menopause symptoms while vaginal lubricants and low-dose topical estrogen can be effective. Still, many women are hesitant to treat symptoms with hormone therapy due to the link to breast cancer discovered in the Women’s Health Initiative study that found a higher risk of cancer in women over 65 who take hormone replacement.
Childbirth-Related Vaginal Looseness and Stretching
Childbirth is certainly a traumatic experience that, for many women, comes with lifelong side effects. While some birth canals can return to normal after giving birth, some women complain of looseness of the pelvic floor and stretching of the vagina.
The muscle tissue of the vaginal wall is very elastic and tightly folded. While the vagina stretches significantly during childbirth, it typically returns to normal within six months of giving birth. There are exceptions. Multiple births, even in young women, can fatigue vaginal muscles and prevent them from fully contracted again. Aging also fatigues the muscle tissue and makes the problem of persistent looseness more common among women who give birth in their 30s or 40s.
Trauma during childbirth or another event can also contribute to this problem. If the muscles of the pelvic floor that surround and hold the shape of the vagina are damaged, looseness is more likely.
Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Following Childbirth and Menopause
A solution now used through North America and Europe to help women following childbirth or menopause? Vaginal rejuvenation. Laser vaginal rejuvenation that works on the premise that heat and light therapy can jump-start the body’s healing mechanism and stimulate new collagen growth to repair the damaged vaginal tissue.
While invasive surgery may help with some childbirth-related vaginal problems and prescription hormone therapy is available to treat menopause symptoms, many women today are turning to an approach that uses non-invasive radiofrequency to help repair the vaginal muscles and treat problematic symptoms like dryness. This treatment uses a slim handheld device or wand to deliver warm radiofrequency energy inside the vagina to help rejuvenate and heal damaged tissue. Much like facial rejuvenation, the treatment can stimulate collagen production in the genital tract.
Radiofrequency therapy can help with many problems associated with childbirth and menopause such as:
- Looseness of the vaginal muscles
- Leakage or urinary incontinence
- Greater urge to urinate
- Poor tone of the vulva and labia tissues
- Excessive dryness
- Painful intercourse
- Thinning of the vaginal wall
Many women turn to vaginal rejuvenation for improved function, comfort, and confidence, but it also has cosmetic benefits. Non-invasive vaginal rejuvenation can refresh the appearance of the labia by stimulating collagen production and improving skin quality and tightness.
Vaginal rejuvenation doesn’t have the body of research behind it that hormone therapy boasts, but tens of thousands of women have now used the procedure and many more are expected to turn to vaginal rejuvenation in the coming years. Doctors who offer the procedure say that it offers good results without the risk of surgery and hormone replacement.