The physical changes brought on by ageing or childbirth are among the most common, yet least talked about experiences for many women. These changes in the body can impact a woman’s overall wellbeing and quality of life as well as her sexual health and confidence. It is important to discuss these everyday healthcare issues, as many women are not aware of the non-invasive solutions available.
This is according to Dr Taheera Hassim, an obstetrician and gynaecologist practising at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital. She notes that the relaxation of vaginal tissue, incontinence, vaginal dryness and a decrease in sexual pleasure can in many cases be improved without the need for surgery.
“Non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation can boost the production of collagen, which is important for providing strength and support to your skin, muscles, connective tissue and bones. This increase in collagen production has the effect of tightening vaginal skin and tissue and can have tremendous benefits in addressing functional concerns such as incontinence and atrophic vaginitis, or dryness, as well as improving the feeling of pleasure during sexual intercourse,” she explains.
What is non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation?
Dr Hassim notes that energy based forms of vaginal rejuvenation therapies, which make use of thermal or non-thermal energy, are increasingly gaining ground globally.
“By using radiofrequency and ultrasound technology to gently heat up and shrink collagen fibres, natural collagen production in the vaginal tissue is stimulated. The treatments are administered by a doctor in their consulting rooms, offering an advanced, safe and effective non-invasive alternative to surgical vaginal rejuvenation procedures such as labiaplasty and vaginoplasty,” she explains.
Dr Hassim says that each treatment session is eight to sixteen minutes long and involves the insertion of a vaginal probe into the vaginal canal, as well as passing the probe along the outer lips of the vagina. The probe has different form fitting applicator tips and is designed to account for women’s different vaginal canal sizes and shapes.
“This ensures that treatment is in no way painful, although the probe may feel warm. The temperature used is adjusted to suit individual patients’ heat tolerance and the heat is distributed evenly across the probe, minimising any discomfort.
“Treatments are carried out once a week for a recommended three sessions and normal daily activities can be resumed immediately after the procedure, as any redness or mild swelling will dissipate within a few hours. Patients can even resume sexual activity the same day,” says Dr Hassim.
While some patients notice improvements after the first session, full results can usually be expected approximately three months after the final treatment.
Why opt for a non-surgical treatment?
The benefits of a non-invasive form of vaginal rejuvenation are many, with results including improved skin texture, tightness and sensation. Particularly notable is that the impact on daily life is truly minimal, as no downtime is required. Patients can head straight back to the office or off to do the school run.
Who should consider non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation?
Dr Hassim says that such treatments are well worth considering for menopausal women and women who have given birth. She adds that women experiencing the following may want to explore the option of non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation:
- vaginal relaxation (loose or widened vagina);
- stress urinary incontinence (leaking urine when jumping, sneezing, coughing or running);
- dryness of the vagina (or atrophic vaginitis), and
- frequent vaginal infections. these women see excellent results from the treatment.
“When women age, they also have to deal with the drop of oestrogen levels, which can also cause the thinning and dryness of vaginal walls and, ultimately, vaginal atrophy. As a consequence of vaginal atrophy, women can experience vaginal discomfort and infections, urinary incontinence and pain during sexual intercourse among other issues. The same can happen to women who have to go through radiation or chemotherapy,” says Dr Hassim.
When is non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation not advisable?
It is important that you are in good health and not currently pregnant to undergo this treatment modality. An open and honest conversation with your doctor is essential to finding the best possible treatment option for your individual needs, and in order to rule out whether a surgical approach may not be a better solution.
“Ultimately, every patient is different, and it is important to work together with your doctor in finding the right treatment for you. Fortunately, with the development of these highly effective, non-invasive forms of treatment, women have many more options to choose from,” concludes Dr Hassim.
To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the group’s facilities, visit www.netcare.co.za or contact the Netcare customer service centre either by email at email@example.com or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.