A discussion with Dr. Andrew London of Belcara Health
Q: Intimacy has become more and more uncomfortable. Can laser treatments really help?
A: In most cases, yes! Specialized laser treatments have shown to be highly effective for reducing discomfort during intercourse, especially for menopausal women.
Painful sex, clinically known as “dyspareunia,” can be caused by a wide range of physical and psychological conditions, but the primary cause is vaginal dryness, a common symptom of menopause. Menopause is a natural biological process that occurs when a woman’s menstrual cycles end, usually somewhere around age 50. During menopause, the body’s natural production of estrogen decreases. Estrogen is a hormone that is largely responsible for a woman’s physical capacity to produce the vaginal lubricants needed for sexual enjoyment. The decrease of estrogen causes vaginal tissues to become thin, dry, and less elastic, making sexual intercourse painful and unappealing. It can also cause vaginal irritation and the leaking of urine with laughing, coughing, or sneezing.
There are several traditional treatments for vaginal dryness associated with menopause, including moisturizers, lubricants, vaginal estrogen supplements, and bioidentical hormone therapies. Unfortunately, topical products must be used continuously to offer relief and many women are not willing to take estrogen products, due to the inconvenience and the potential cancer risk. There are some cancers that feed on estrogen, therefore adding more estrogen into the body could give cancer cells (hidden or known) fuel for growth.
Today, however, women have a new, long-term solution for relief. Laser treatments, such as CO2re Intima, provide a drug-free, minimally-invasive way to prevent and reduce the discomforts of painful sex, vaginal irritation, and mild urinary incontinence. There is no hormonal activity with this treatment, making it a safe solution for cancer patients and anyone who doesn’t want to use traditional hormone therapy.
The CO2re Intima laser uses fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) technology and delivers light energy to the tissues in and around the vagina. The laser energy stimulates the body’s own healing response to promote increased collagen production. This natural healing response improves the soft tissue tone, texture, and appearance in the vaginal canal and over the external vulva (when treated). In addition, the laser energy stimulates increased moisture in the vaginal canal, reducing dryness and discomfort during intimate relations. It can also improve the appearance of the external tissues of the vagina and to help correct some looseness of the vaginal opening.
Treatments are performed with a hand-held device that addresses the superficial and deep skin layers simultaneously, with highly precise control – very important for this intimate area. For most women, only three treatment sessions are required, performed four to six weeks apart, with occasional touchups after a year or two, if needed. The procedure itself takes only two to four minutes, with minimal to no discomfort.
By restoring health and balance to the vaginal tissues, laser treatments correct the conditions that cause painful intercourse from vaginal dryness so women can enjoy sex once again. It has quickly become a popular solution for women seeking a non-invasive, comfortable, drug-free solution and has shown to be successful for nearly 90% of women experiencing sexual discomfort. And, it should be noted that this treatment is not limited to menopausal women. Any woman experiencing vaginal dryness, irritation, or mild incontinence, or looseness of the vagina could benefit from this treatment.
The first step is selecting the right practice and doctor. It is extremely important to seek help from a qualified, board-certified specialist before starting any treatment because you will feel more confident about your results when you have confidence in your medical team. Remember, the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can resume a healthy, rewarding sex life. t
Dr. Andrew London is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist, specializing in women’s sexual wellness at Belcara Health. Trained at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, he completed a pelvic surgery fellowship at Union Memorial Hospital. In addition to seeing patients at Belcara Health, he is associate director of the Maryland Center for Sexual Health and is an assistant professor of OB/GYN at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Where health and beauty blend.
Belcara Health is a unique, multidisciplinary practice offering Plastic Surgery, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Wellness and Skincare services - all under one roof. The practice’s renowned specialists collaborate to provide a continuum of care with integrated, personalized services and procedures designed to help patients live happier, healthier, more vibrant lives – now, and for the years ahead.
Dr. Michael Cohen, Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Gary Vela, Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Bradley Robertson, Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Nadia Mostovich, Facial Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Ciro Martins, Dermatologist
Dr. Richard Adler, Ophthalmologist
Dr. Eric Nager, Integrative Medicine
Dr. Andrew London, OBGYN
Belcara Health / 1427 Clarkview Road / Suite 300 / Baltimore, MD 21209 /
BelcaraHealth.com / 410.296.0414