- Non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation can help with issues like vaginal relaxation and urinary incontinence.
- The treatments combine radiofrequency and ultrasound technology to "gently heat up and shrink collagen fibres".
- Dr Taheera Hassim advises anyone interested in these treatments to talk to their doctor and have an open and honest conversation first.
Non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation therapies are on the rise, tackling issues like vaginal relaxation, urinary incontinence and more.
"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 well-being 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," Dr Taheera Hassim, an obstetrician and gynaecologist practising at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital, says in a press statement.
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."
READ MORE | Vaginal rejuvenation treatments are becoming increasingly popular. But what are the benefits?
Energy-based vaginal rejuvenation treatments use thermal or non-thermal energy and are becoming increasingly popular.
According to Dr Hassim, treatments combine radiofrequency and ultrasound technology to "gently heat up and shrink collagen fibres," and in so doing, "natural collagen production in the vaginal tissue is stimulated."
She further explains: "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."
Each session is around eight to sixteen minutes long. A vaginal probe is inserted into the vaginal canal and also passes over the outer lips of the vagina. To ensure comfort, the probe has different applicator tips designed for 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.
Some may notice an improvement after their first session, but full results should usually be expected approximately three months after the last treatment, Hassim advises.
Who should consider non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation?
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).
Frequent vaginal infections.
"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.
READ MORE | Labiaplasty is about more than getting a 'designer vagina': A surgeon explains why women get this op
As with any medical procedure, there are risks that should be taken into account. "It is important that you are in good health and not currently pregnant to undergo this treatment modality."
Dr Hassim advises anyone interested in these treatments to talk to their doctor and have an open and honest conversation first. This will also help determine whether a surgical approach would be best for them.
"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."