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Center for Vulvar and Vaginal Disorders adds treatment options

Jun. 7, 2018, 9:26 AM


Two years ago, Melinda New, MD, associate professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, and nurse practitioner Lisa Milam, MSN, WHMP, opened a specialized clinic called the Center for Vulvar and Vaginal Disorders.

Upon opening, the clinic saw patients one-half day a week.

Now the bustling service has expanded to twice a week and is offering a novel therapy for women suffering from vaginal atrophy or dryness.

The Mona Lisa Touch, an innovative carbon dioxide laser procedure, is used to treat vaginal dryness and pain with intercourse that accompanies menopause.

For many of the clinic’s patients, it is the only option for relief for women who cannot take estrogen.

“When women lose estrogen through menopause or surgery, vaginal dryness is a very prominent symptom,” said New.

“Many of our patients are breast cancer survivors who do not want to take estrogen. And for some of our patients, many of the over-the-counter remedies either do not work or the women do not want to risk worsening their menopausal side effects.

“The Mona Lisa is a safe option for patients,” added New. “After reviewing studies, we decided to educate ourselves about the technique and undergo the training. We felt it would be an important adjunct to what we can offer women in our clinic to provide a therapeutic answer to these usually severe problems.”

The device, designed and produced by DEKA in Italy, delivers gentle, laser energy to the vaginal wall tissue. This creates small injuries in the epithelial layer of the vaginal mucosa, which stimulate collagen production and triggers a healing response.

The treatment takes about five minutes and is performed in the Vanderbilt Center for Women’s Health Cool Springs location. The full therapy consists of three treatments every six weeks.

Apart from dryness and painful intercourse, the device can be used to treat dermatologic disorders including lichen sclerosis and lichen planus, which can change a woman’s anatomy resulting in restricted vaginal openings.

New is pleased with the results from the first patients treated with the new carbon dioxide system.

“Lisa and I typically see patients who are significantly affected who are not intimate with their partner, are not able to engage in routine activities like sitting through a movie, taking prolonged car rides, wearing pants, stockings or jeans and cannot exercise.

“I am very humbled by what women tolerate and what they are able to endure,” she said. “To offer somebody something relatively simple that enables them to return to a more normal life and activities gives us enormous satisfaction.”

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