I’m back at lunch with my friend Kitty Gahlorre. Last time we had lunch she told me all about a new laser procedure she was going to have done. This wasn’t your usual laser therapy for your eyes or hair removal or even acne; this was laser therapy for your nether parts, so to speak. Kitty suffers from vaginal atrophy where she experiences dryness, irritation and itchiness, and painful sex. But, she’s Italian, and there was no way she was going to suffer in silence.
Unlike a lot of other women who are too embarrassed to talk about the real issues they are experiencing with menopause such as vaginal pain, she talked to her doctor, Dr. Bella Gyna. Fortunately, Dr. Gyna was able to offer some suggestions for a solution, one of which was a treatment using fractional CO2 laser. Kitty did her research. Before she decided to undergo the Mona Lisa Touch vaginal laser treatment, she tried an anti-estrogen medication, Osphena, and Estrace, a vaginal cream containing a low dose of estrogen, neither of which seemed to work that well. When we’d last visited, she was about to have the treatment done and I was anxious to hear how it had gone.
Me: Kitty, I’m so glad to see you. You need to tell me about your laser surgery! I’m dying to know how it went. Did it hurt? Did it work? I want to know everything!
Kitty: “Oh my gawd, it was amazing! You remember why I decided to get the fractional CO2 laser treatment, right? Well, it’s actually three treatments. So, first you have to trim your jungle. I went ahead and did too much and now it’s itchy as it grows back in – who knew? Anyway, there’s nothing to it. It was all done in Dr. Gyna’s office in about an hour each treatment.
First, she put Lidocaine, a local anesthetic cream, all over the area. Then, I waited for 15 to 20 minutes for the numbness to take effect. Once I was ready, the doctor and her assistant got to it. It looked a magic wand me! No, actually, it looks like a curling iron, but I really didn’t see it and I didn’t want to. I only felt a slight amount of pressure. Honestly, getting a pap smear is more uncomfortable.
Speaking of pap smears, I can’t get insurance to pay for it because the procedure doesn’t even have a code yet. I tried, but it was like talking to a blank wall. I can use my FSA though, which is good. So anyway . . .
When the doctor was done, I popped up to see what she had done, and she laughed, but gently pushed me back down. Soon after, though, she did let me see. What I saw was a pattern of tiny white dots; it was really cool. Dr. Gyna did the inside and the outside at the least intensity on that first treatment; the next time the inner treatment was at a higher intensity, but the outer was the same.
When the procedure was finished, I sat on a pack of ice for 20 minutes and then I was done. I was supposed to have brought a frozen water bottle with me, but I forgot. I did take two Advil about an hour before, just in case, but I don’t think I needed to because the next time, I didn’t take anything and I was fine. After that, I went home, sat on ice for about 20 minutes and that was it. I didn’t have any discomfort at all. Absolutely nothing. The second treatment was equally uneventful.
So, big question, I know you want to ask – did it work? I don’t know. I will tell you there’s a huge improvement in moisture, if you know what I’m saying. And, it still hurts, but not nearly as much as it did. So actually, yes, I think it has worked so far. It works as well as the Osphena and the Estrace, but I’ve only had two treatments. I had the second treatment six weeks later; I’m not sure how much has improved from the first to the second treatment, but I think it takes a while to really get going. I’m not expecting to feel like I did when I was 30, but getting back to how I felt even at 48 is huge improvement.
Two other things happened, though, and I’m only telling you this because we’re very good friends. I feel like my bladder is stronger. And can hold more. I don’t feel as much urgency to pee as I have in recent years. So, there’s that. But also, and this is between me and you, the big ‘O’ is actually attainable now. For a while there, it was touch and go. I think Guido is happy.”
And with that, we lifted our wine glasses, clinked, and laughed. Sometimes we just need the right kind of hot poker.
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