Unsexy & Inconvenient – the women's issues we don't talk about
Over the years, the combination of nature and science has been evolving to improve women's health and appearances: lasers, radiofrequency, PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic fields), Bioptron Light Therapy and other energy devices are helping pave the way for treatments that weren't available even ten years ago. We seem more and more comfortable talking about treatments for fine lines, wrinkles, scar tissue or stretch marks. Finally, the focus seems to be shifting, and women are having more conversations about vaginal health, function and appearance.
Pregnancy and menopause can wreak havoc to our body, and the vagina is the one area that can bear the brunt of issues. So let's start a conversation about some of the issues and technologies that can be used to effectively improve post-pregnancy, menopausal as well as the cosmetic appearance of the vaginal area — no better place to start than with gynaecologist, Dr Sonya Jessup. Dr Jessup is a respected leader in her area of medicine and is now working on the Northern Beaches to provide women with intimate health solutions. It is my pleasure to introduce Dr Jessup in this month's article where she will provide some insight into ways women can lead full and healthy lives with vaginal revitalisation.
Dr Sonya Jessup BHB, MBChB, MReprodMed, FRANZCOG, ESAG
Over the years working as a Gynaecologist and fertility specialist, I have seen first-hand, many women experience incontinence, vaginal laxity and decreased sexual enjoyment following childbirth.
Their pelvic floor muscles have never quite recovered, despite pelvic floor exercises, to the extent that they now leak urine with coughing, sneezing and during exercise or getting up multiple times in the night to go to the toilet. Other women notice some bulging of the vagina and comment that either they or their partners notice that sex doesn't feel quite the same.
For women going through menopause, these symptoms can be amplified. The decreased oestrogen leads to worsening stress or urgency incontinence and also a feeling of vaginal burning and dryness with sex. Some women develop or underlying conditions such as Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM) that are unlikely to improve over time without treatment.
Many women, both post-birth and menopausal, simply put up with these symptoms, assuming that it is just something they need to live with - the cost of giving birth or just part of the journey of menopause. Others are unwilling to go to with options such as surgery, vaginal meshes or tapes which have had increasing negative publicity due to a number of cases with severe adverse reactions. So much so that many of these procedures are no longer allowed in Australia. Medication may be an alternative but may not be suitable for all women, such as those that have breast cancer, which is hormonally sensitive.
The good news is that there is now a whole range of non-surgical devices that provide treatment and relief for these issues. Not every method is suitable for every woman. It is essential to see a qualified gynaecologist with traditional and hormonal treatment experience and who is also skilled and practised with the newer laser, radiofrequency and electromagnetic devices.
For women today, no matter what your age is, you can now be proactive with your intimate health. There is no need to put up with incontinence, laxity or dryness. With the availability of new technologies and the advances in medical knowledge, problems which have prevented you from leading full lives with everyday activities can be overcome. Leading by example and being strong role models, we can make a difference in our own lives and those of our mothers, sisters, daughters and girlfriends. It is time to enjoy full, healthy lives and celebrate being a woman!