GSM (Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause)

Post-menopausal women may experience changes in their vulvar, vaginal and urinary health as estrogen declines – changes that may have a great impact on their sexual health and their overall quality of life. Read on for more information about GSM and its treatments.

WHAT IS GSM OR VULVAR VAGINAL ATROPHY?

The term Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause – or GSM – encompasses a group of symptoms that may occur in the vulvovaginal and bladder-urethral areas from loss of estrogen that occurs with menopause. GSM (formerly called Vaginal Atrophy, or Vulvar Vaginal Atrophy, or VVA) includes symptoms such as vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation; lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain during sex; and urinary symptoms of urgency, pain or burning during urination (dysuria) and recurrent urinary tract infections.

Despite the millions of women experiencing GSM, studies show that only 18% of these women seek treatment – a truly heartbreaking statistic as there are effective treatments that can greatly improve a woman’s sexual health and overall well-being.

HOW IS GSM TREATED?

There are many options for treating GSM. First-line therapies include non-hormonal, long-acting vaginal moisturizers/lubricants, especially if symptoms are related to intercourse. Low-dose vaginal estrogen is considered the gold standard for treating GSM, and for most women, it is highly effective. However, some women are reluctant to use low-dose estrogen because of concerns about risk; other women find the local treatment bothersome or messy and time consuming. For these women, and for women who have experienced breast cancer (see below,) the MonaLisa Touch™ laser provides an effective, safe, alternative therapy.

WHY IS MONALISA TOUCH™ LASER THERAPY AN OPTION FOR BREAST CANCER SURVIVORS WITH GSM?

Women who receive chemotherapy for breast cancer treatment experience menopause (often called “medical” menopause because it is induced by chemotherapy,) which leads to GSM. Additionally, drugs used to prevent recurrence of breast cancer (aromatase inhibitors, or AIs) also decrease estrogen levels, leading to GSM. In fact, women on AIs often have the most severe cases of GSM. Breast cancer is a contraindication to the use of estrogen. Even low dose, local vaginal estrogen has been shown to raise estrogen levels transiently in women on AIs, and this is a concern for some women. Thus, women on AIs who are unable to use vaginal estrogen need alternative therapies, and the MonaLisa Touch™ is an excellent option for these women.

WHAT IS THE MONALISA TOUCH™ LASER AND WHAT CONDITIONS DOES IT TREAT?

The MonaLisa Touch™ is a CO2 laser used to treat symptoms of GSM, including vaginal dryness, burning, and irritation; lack of lubrication, discomfort or pain during sex; and urinary symptoms of urgency, pain or burning during urination (dysuria) and recurrent urinary tract infections. It is a non-hormonal, FDA-approved therapy, proven safe and effective through numerous clinical trials.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Decrease in estrogen leads to thinning of the vaginal tissue, changes in vaginal pH, loss of ability to lubricate, and changes in the vaginal micro biome that are associated with symptoms of GSM. The MonaLisa Touch™ laser treatment provides fractionated beams of light that penetrate small areas of tissue, triggering a healing response by inducing the body’s own “repair mechanism,” prompting increased levels of collagen, elastin and improved blood vessel supply, and enhanced moisture of the vaginal canal. Each treatment lasts about 5 minutes, and is completely painless. Patients require no down-time, and most patients experience some relief from the very first treatment. A complete treatment course consists of three treatments, scheduled 6 weeks apart.

IS IT SAFE?

The MonaLisa Touch™ laser is a non-hormonal, FDA-approved therapy, proven safe and effective through numerous clinical trials. This in-office procedure requires no anesthesia, no down-time, and has been used to treat thousands of women since entering the market as an effective treatment several years ago. It is particularly well suited for breast cancer patients or women who cannot or do not wish to receive estrogen therapy.

DO I HAVE TO BE A MEMBER OF THE PRACTICE TO RECEIVE MONALISA TOUCH™ THERAPY?

No, you do not have to be a member of our concierge medicine or direct primary care practice in order to receive laser therapy treatments. You may be referred to our practice by your primary care physician or OB/GYN, or you may simply schedule a consultation with one of our providers prior to scheduling treatment in our office.

HOW MUCH DOES A COURSE OF TREATMENT COST?

Please call our office to discuss pricing and plans. Need more information? Please call our office (513.760.5511) and request a private consultation with one of our providers, or click here for additional information.

More questions?