Treating painful sex without hormones: the Mona Lisa Touch
Mona Lisa Touch: You probably haven’t heard of it, but if you’re a woman in midlife, you might want to take a moment to hear about it. This “fractionated CO2 laser,” we hear, can return vaginal tissue to a pre-menopausal state with just a few 3-to-5-minute treatments.
That can mean a return to sex that’s pleasurable instead of painful and an end to mild urinary incontinence.
Because we have no idea what a “fractionated CO2 laser” is, but we wanted to know more, we contacted a provider of the service here in Seattle, Dr. Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su.
Dr. Rebecca maintained her own ob/gyn practice and taught Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington before decided to take a position with Swedish Medical Center as an OB Hospitalist. In 2016, she opened RenuvaGyn to start offering Mona Lisa Touch to women in menopause.
She knows what this laser is and what it can do for women who are suffering with mild incontinence, vaginal atrophy and painful sex. Here’s what she told us:
1:45 How did you end up here, doing this?
Dr. Rebecca traces her path to Seattle and RenuvaGyn and the Mona Lisa Touch, and why she feels like women deserve to have a robust sex life, even after menopause (shocking!)
4:35 Why choose the Mona Lisa Touch?
Some women can’t use hormones or prefer not to. The MLT gives those women a great option.
6:50 What does the Mona Lisa Touch device look like?
Kind of like a photocopy machine with a screen, according to the doc, with a probe very like the one used in a vaginal ultrasound. She explains the process which is nothing at all like making copies.
8:11 How does it work?
The laser reawakens cells that start rebuilding and re-hydrating the vaginal area. The thicker layers, rebalanced pH, and returning healthy bacteria bring that bit of the body back to pre-menopause. She also gives us a timeline for when to get going – hint: the sooner, the better.
10:47 It’s not just for painful sex
Yes, it’s good for sex, no question. But it’s also good for the itch and the dryness.
11:29 Sooooo…. Does it hurt?
Because it doesn’t go as deeply into the tissue as facial laser treatment or hair removal, it’s less painful than either. A topical numbing cream takes care of any pain that might occur with the procedure. No flaking or peeling, either, woot!
13:20 What keeps women from getting the procedure done?
The MLT sounds amazing – why aren’t more women doing it? Cost, says the doctor. It’s not covered by insurance (of course!), so women pay the costs out of pocket.
15:10 When women hear about it, do they want it?
Cost aside, women are often a little fearful about the procedure, but when it’s done, the usual response is, “that’s it?” Doctor Rebecca goes into what the office visit is like, and it sounds pretty darn easy.
(Not all vaginal rejuvenation procedures are created equal. Read up on why you may not want to Keep up with the Kardashians)
16:53 About that incontinence?
For mild incontinence, the MLT can be very helpful in a couple of ways. Dr. Rebecca takes us through the advantages. Also good for post-baby women in addition to women over 50, so spread the word!
19:05 Can you be my ob/gyn?
Mona Lisa Touch (and menopause care generally) doesn’t quite yet pay the bills; Dr. Rebecca is also a OB Hospitalist at Swedish Medical Center, helping with labor, delivery, c-sections, etc. The MLT fulfilled her need to work with women on an ongoing basis. She talks about how doctors are paid and why it doesn’t favor doctors talking with women about menopause issues.
23:14 What’s the process for women who want MLT?
Dr. Rebecca says there’s no physical prep to be done, but it’s good to do some research and know what to expect. One place to look is her own site and blog on renuvagyn.com.
For women who cannot or prefer not to use hormones to treat vaginal dryness and painful sex, the Mona Lisa Touch may provide an excellent, effective, low-risk alternative. You can search for a menopause specialist in your area from the Mona Lisa Touch website.
Have you had or would you consider a laser treatment to deal with vaginal atrophy or incontinence? Join the conversation on Gennev’s Facebook page or in Midlife & Menopause Solutions, Gennev’s closed Facebook group.
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