Viagra is practically a household name. It’s easy to talk about Viagra and Cialis for erectile dysfunction. It’s not as easy to talk openly about women’s sexual health issues. But certain conditions or phases of life can affect a woman’s ability to feel sexy or even enjoy sex. I want women to feel comfortable discussing sexual issues and to know they don’t have to suffer. There are treatments to help conditions like painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), vaginal atrophy and dryness (common with menopause), as well as vaginal relaxation syndrome (VRS) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), both frequent issues after multiple childbirths.
While working as a laser nurse at a dermatology practice in Bahrain, where my husband was stationed as a U.S. Marine, I was trained to perform gynecological laser therapy. I successfully treated many patients, and as a mother of two, I also had this laser treatment myself and experienced improvement for incontinence.
When I came back to the United States after getting my nurse practitioner credentials, I resumed working in dermatology at Contour Dermatology and began talking with Dr. Jochen about bringing this laser technology to the desert to help women locally feel more comfortable about themselves and their sexuality. We selected the BellaV, an erbium laser, one of several types of lasers FDA cleared for gynecological use.
This laser technology offers an effective alternative to surgery for treating the vaginal and pelvic floor area. It helps restore natural vaginal lubrication by rejuvenating and thickening the mucosal tissue as thinning of this tissue contributes to dryness, burning and itching. It also helps strengthen the pelvic floor to reduce urinary leakage without a mesh implant and also can provide tightening of the vaginal muscle, which may increase sexual enjoyment.
The first question people always ask is, “What does the treatment feel like?” The treatments only take about 15 minutes and most patients describe them as virtually painless. Then they want to know how long before they can resume sex. We advise patients to refrain from exercise and sexual intercourse for about a week following each treatment. Typically, five to six treatments are recommended, spaced about two weeks apart for best results.
One of my patients, a 30-year-old woman with perimenopausal symptoms including dryness and discomfort during sexual intercourse, commented, “There was barely any discomfort, just a little pressure. I would describe it as similar to a pap smear, if not easier.” She was impressed with the treatment adding that she saw an improvement after the first treatment, which was very encouraging. After the third treatment, she really noticed a difference – and so did her husband.
It’s rewarding to help women feel better about one of the most intimate areas of life. I encourage women to take more control of their sexuality and not be ashamed to say, “I want to feel better with my partner even into my 60s, 70s and 80s.” Why not?
Laura Moroney, FNP-C is a laser specialist and nurse practitioner at Contour Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center. She can be reached at (760) 423.4000 or www.contourderm.com.