Vaginal Atrophy: What It Is and What You Can Do About It


Today we have Dr. Karram and patient Lisa Elliott here to discuss vaginal health issues and a new game-changing treatment option. This is the MonaLisa Touch treatment, and I truly would categorize this as a game-changing treatment for a very common condition that we call in medical circles Vaginal Atrophy. Atrophy is basically a problem that occurs when a woman loses her circulating estrogen. The most common reason for that would be when a woman passes through menopause, her ovaries stop working, her estrogen levels drop, and in a matter of one to three or four years, the vagina basically dries up and they start to complain of symptoms of dryness and irritation, and most importantly, pain with intercourse. Also a variety of lower urinary tract symptoms can commonly accompany this problem. So the MonaLisa Touch is a minimally invasive revolutionary laser treatment that is delivered in an office setting, in a matter of minutes, that really addresses these symptoms quite well. This problem impacts millions of postmenopausal women, and also unfortunately, most breast cancer survivors have this problem because either they can’t take estrogen because their tumor is estrogen-dependent, or they’re placed on a medicine that antagonizes the estrogen in their body, or they’re simply fearful of estrogen because of all the unknowns and how it impacts breast cancer. I was fortunate enough to be the first clinician to utilize this treatment in the United States, and we conducted a research trial, and one of the first participants in that research trial was Lisa, who’s with me today, and she’s a breast cancer survivor, and she went through the treatment ‘cause she had a severe form of vaginal atrophy, and she can talk a little bit about the experience she’s had with the MonaLisa Touch. Great, Lisa, tell us about your experience and how it’s helped you. Well, when I was 29, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since that time I’ve been on Tamoxifen, which has since caused postmenopause-like symptoms, including vaginal atrophy. And with that, my sex life ended. There was no way that I could have sex at all; it was excruciatingly painful. And when you’re 30 years old, that seems really daunting to live the rest of your life that way. I’m a little bit stubborn, though, so I wasn’t going to accept ‘no’ for an answer, or ‘there’s no treatment’ for an answer. And I’m very fortunate to have come across the MonaLisa Touch and been able to be a part of Dr. Karram’s clinical trials. It has had such success for me. I started noticing change within two days of my first treatment, and since that time it has just gotten progressively better. I am over the moon excited with how well this has worked. And I don’t have to worry about the safety of it. I don’t have to worry because there’s no hormones, and, as Dr. Karram alluded to, again, earlier, that, you know, I’m one of those people that can’t have hormones, so this has been really important for me and for my life, not only my physical well-being but my emotional well-being, and I know it is for many other women out there. And what would you say to those other women out there who might not know to speak up or know that there’s options out there, who are having problems like this? Well, first of all, I would say that you are not alone. You are in a club of millions of other women. And most of those women are silent about it; they feel that this is just part of the natural process and they just have to live with this. And that is not true. You have to be your own advocate. You have to, um, really look for the treatment options and find a doctor who’s willing to work with you. This is a problem that impacts so many women, but there’s so much misperception about it. Women, unfortunately, have very little knowledge or education about this. And they just assume that it’s the normal part of aging and that these are just symptoms that they have to live with. And they assume that the only therapy out there is hormones and either they don’t want to take them, or they’ve tried them and they don’t work. So, you know, first thing is, it’s really important to get this problem out of the closet and let women like Lisa who have cancer, or like patients who just go through menopause, stop suffering in silence, and, you know, start to hopefully gain back some of their quality of life. There’s about 50 or 55 sites in the United States now offering this treatment. Go to SmileMonaLisa.com, those various sites are listed.

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