These include those targeting both cosmetic and functional concerns. Treatments come in myriad forms and range from hormonal treatments to surgery. The key is, as always, to research thoroughly and to find the right practitioner before going ahead.
Here is a good overview to help you to decide what, if anything, might be helpful in your situation.
What is the meaning of vaginal rejuvenation?Consider all the things that happen to the vagina and vaginal wall during the course of a life from childbirth to age-related urinary incontinence or a prolapse to labial lips stretching or changing in shape. As a result, you may feel discomfort or wish for an aesthetic change. The aim of vaginal rejuvenation, whichever angle it’s approached from, is the correction or amelioration of those symptoms or concerns.
How do I know if I need vaginal rejuvenation?Whether or not it is ‘needed’ is down to the individual, though in Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Zahra Ameen’s experience, it is crucial to ascertain whether patients want the procedures for themselves rather than to please a partner or to conform to societal ideas of normalcy.
Essentially, if you feel it will improve the quality of your life or your self-confidence, and if you have found a good practitioner, it may well be worth it for you. A good practitioner will ask a lot of questions and arm you with plenty of information before going ahead.
What are some of the more common vaginal rejuvenation treatments?Dr Ameen explains that she divides treatments into symptoms and would suggest:
For age-related dryness: ‘I would primarily advise considering local hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the form of vaginal oestrogen such as vagifem.’
For vaginal laxity: ‘I might approach this from a few angles including pelvic floor exercises, kegel exercises, vaginal wall repair, and - if needed - vaginal refashioning after birth. Physiotherapy might also be required and, to recover the pelvic floor, perineal repair may be advisable. There is limited evidence at present for the efficacy of energy or laser treatments for vaginal atrophy.’
For labial adjustments: ‘If a woman is unhappy with the size or shape of her labia, or it is interfering with sexual intercourse or sport, she can consider a labial reduction, which involves a primarily cosmetic procedure to reduce the size of the labia minora. Patients must be realistic in their expectations if undertaking this procedure, as very delicate tissue can be prone to wound breakdown, scarring, and sometimes short term pain during sexual intercourse.’
To enhance orgasm: ‘This is a very complex issue. First I would discuss foreplay and clitoral stimulation, along with psychological aspects such as confidence and open communication with their partner before ascertaining if other factors might be interfering with the quality of orgasm such as pain during sexual intercourse if post-menopausal, or if vaginal wall repair or labial reduction might help matters.’
What else do I need to know?It is always worth doing your due diligence on practitioners - and in this case making sure they know your full history and your future plans - it would, for example, make a difference to treatment if you intend on having further children.
Do also tell them if you have any associated symptoms around your primary reason for visiting, i.e. if you have urinary urgency as you may need to see a urogynaecologist, for example, before proceeding.
Bear in mind that surgery may not get you the full results you desire but rather move you closer to that goal, and communicate your expectations with your practitioner so they can ensure that they are aligned with the reality of what the rejuvenation might deliver.
Dr Ameen adds that practitioners should really provide official written information on the proposed treatment and also give you leaflets such as those provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on each option so that you can make the most informed decision about how to move forward.