After her first child was born six years ago, Kirsten Fagan found exercising a little trickier than usual.
“I found that when I used to jump or do skipping or the treadmill, I needed to pee all the time. It was like, I can’t do this for longer than two minutes, I’ve gotta go,” the 36-year-old mum of two recalls. “I remember thinking, well, I’ll never run like I did before.”
Being a former professional athlete, this was incredibly frustrating for Kirsten – but it’s also a situation lots of us can relate to. The hormonal changes that pregnancy and menopause cause in a woman’s body can trigger a range of side-effects, particularly in the vagina. Stress incontinence, dryness, laxity and irritation are just a few symptoms of vaginal atrophy – the thinning of the vaginal walls as a result of the ovaries releasing less oestrogen.
Around half of Australian women will suffer from these symptoms in their lifetime, although not all of them will bring up the topic with their doctors. And until recently, treatments have been limited to topical creams and hormone replacement therapy, which aren’t always suitable.
However, Australian clinics are starting to offer a procedure called Mona Lisa Touch, which has been touted as a major step forward for women’s health. Despite what the name suggests it doesn’t mean a vagina follows you around the room. No. It’s a laser treatment that rejuvenates the vagina walls, without using hormones or surgery.
[post continues after video]
Cosmetic Surgery for Women is the first practice in Melbourne to offer the Mona Lisa Touch. Dr Malcolm Linsell, the clinic’s plastic surgeon, has already treated about 15 patients ranging in age from 36 to 66. While he was sceptical at first, Dr Linsell says he’s been surprised by how well the procedure works. “The feedback we’ve had from several patients is really truly been quite amazing,” he tells The Glow.
Mona Lisa Touch works by directing beams of laser light into the walls of the vagina, using a specially designed fractionated carbon dioxide laser that’s inserted inside.
“In the past when laser was used to treat an area, it was really like a little burn. However, now they’ve fractionated the laser, it means the tiny pinpoints of laser go into the area that’s being treated,” Dr Linsell explains. “What that means is that the area heals much more quickly and at the same time gives the benefit that you’re looking for.”
When the laser beam hits the wall, it promotes blood flow into the region and encourages the cells to produce more collagen. The result is more lubrication, tightness and elasticity in the vagina, which is what can relieve symptoms like stress incontinence or dryness.