When we thought about starting the NoVa Women’s Health and Laser Clinic, our focus was to help a specific group of women who suffer from Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) due to the impact on women’s sexual function and self image. It also can lead to irritating bladder symptoms and pain.
FACT: 40-54% of post-menopausal women (women who have stopped menstruating) and 15% of pre-menopausal women will experience GSM.(1)
This is a common problem, but most women don’t talk about it. So often women say they are embarrassed or uncomfortable to talk about this subject, and others accept it as “a normal part of aging.” Those women aren’t wrong – it is a natural process and isn’t a topic of conversation that often comes up at the dinner table, given the sensitive nature of it. BUT we’re here to say – let’s start talking! GSM is a condition that is easily treated.
After menopause the ovaries stop producing estrogen. Estrogen helps the vagina to maintain its health – durable, elastic, lubricated. Without estrogen the tissue becomes thin, easily injured, itchy and dry. The bladder also experiences changes causing the need to pee more often.
What can you do to treat?(2)
1. Sex. Maintaining sexual activity helps sustain vaginal health.
2. Stop Smoking. Women who smoke experience more symptoms.
3. Lubricants. Help with symptoms as needed during sex.
4. Moisturizers. Mimic vaginal secretions.
5. Vaginal Estrogen. Reverses the effects of menopause. A simple vaginal tablet, cream or ring twice a week can improve mucosal thickness, increase natural lubrication and secretions, reduces urinary tract infections and bladder irritation.
6. Vaginal Laser. A more recent advancement in the treatment of GSM. CO2 Laser penetrates vaginal tissue layer that promotes and stimulates mucosal regrowth, restoring natural lubrication and elasticity.
1. DiBonaventura et al, J Womens Health, 2015.
2. North American Menopause Society. Menopause, 2013.