Help for a common menopause complaint: vaginal dryness

- In her late forties, Robin Skrip was hit with a double whammy: breast cancer, then menopause.

She beat cancer, but the menopausal symptoms linger.

"And honestly this kind of thing dries up your face, your hair, your skin," Skrip says. "From head to toe, it's totally not fun."

Now 54, Robin works as an administrative assistant for Atlanta OB-GYN, where Dr. Meera Garcia says vaginal dryness, during and after menopause, is a common complaint.

"It is significant," Dr. Garcia says. "By the time you are 60-years old, 9 out of 10 women will have vaginal dryness and discomfort with intercourse."

Dr. Garcia typically first recommends a silicone based lubricant and a change of habits.

"Avoid bubble baths, avoid soap in that area, aggressive cleaning," she says.  "Just use water to clean that area."

Many women like Robin get help from a topical estrogen cream. But, because of cancer history, she can't use hormone-based treatments.

"So I was kind of left out in the dust, wondering what I can do," she says.

Last year, Robin heard about the MonaLisaTouch, a laser treatment for vaginal dryness and discomfort.

"The minute I saw it, I was, like, 'Sign me up, I'm ready to try it,'" Skrip says.

Skrip was numbed before her treatment, and then Garcia used a highly-focused laser beam she says won't damage the vagina.

"It creates microscopic holes in the vagina as the treatment is done, and it takes about 3-5 minutes," Dr. Garcia says.

As the microscopic holes heal, the vaginal wall thickens and becomes more lubricated.

Robin had three treatments over about a six-month period and, she says, the treatments helped a lot.

"There is usually an 80 to 90 percent improvement once you do the course of treatments, which is usually 3 treatments, 6 months apart," Dr. Garcia says.

The MonaLisa Touch, she says, is typically not covered by health insurance providers.

The cost varies.

In the Atlanta area, Garcia says, women could pay anywhere from $700 to $900 per treatment.

She recommends a yearly "tune-up" treatment after the initial 3 treatments. Robin Skrip says she's grateful to have a way to ease her dryness.

"It's very easy, non-invasive, and it has made my life better," Skrip says.

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