I would like to propose a new mindset for all the women who have gone through or are going through menopause. The term is originally derived from the Greek word pauein, which means to cease or to stop, and for many women, that’s what it seems like, an end. An end to good sleep, good moods, good body temperature and good sex.
More than 50 percent of women suffer from vulvogvaginal atrophy after menopause. That’s the burning, dryness and irritation that can lead to painful intercourse. This happens because the vaginal tissue thins out and stops producing the natural substances that keep the environment healthy and moist. For years, the only real option to treat this has been estrogen substitution. This can be expensive, inconvenient and uncomfortable, and is not a great option for women who have suffered from breast, cervical or uterine cancers.
Fortunately, there is a new option: the Mona Lisa Touch, an intravaginal laser treatment approved by the FDA in 2012 for the treatment of vulvovaginal atrophy. A series of three treatments, each taking about 10-15 minutes, can result in the development of healthier vaginal tissue by regenerating collagen and blood vessels. Many clinical trials have been performed, suggesting long-term improvements in sexual and urinary function, with minimal side effects. Approximately 84 percent of women in a recent study showed significant reduction in symptoms, with 60 percent of women feeling “normal” after treatment.
The Mona Lisa is an in-office procedure that requires no anesthesia, with minimal side effects and no downtime. The three treatments are spaced six weeks apart.
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In both European and U.S. clinical trials, women reported symptom relief after the very first treatment, and even greater improvement after the second and third. And the Mona Lisa is particularly well suited for women who cannot or prefer not to receive estrogen therapy.
Currently, insurance does not pay for Mona Lisa treatments, and women who are interested should contact their health care professional for additional information.
As a urologist, the development of this technology seems like a long-awaited game changer. It is exciting to have a new, promising treatment to offer the many women we see with these issues.
Maybe menopause isn’t an end after all, but a new beginning.
Dr. Lisa Parrillo is a reconstructive urologist practicing at Idaho Urologic Institute. She completed her urology residency at the University of Pennsylvania, and a fellowship in Genitourinary Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Colorado in Denver.
A free seminar will be held Wednesday, Feb. 27, at McCleary Auditorium at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center, 1055 N. Curtis Road in Boise. Check-in is at 6:30 p.m.
Dr. Lisa Parrillo and Dr. Dawn King of Idaho Urologic Institute will discuss “Women’s Urologic Health and Sexual Health After Menopause.”
Attendants are encouraged to register to ensure adequate seating.