Jan’s Story

Jan, 66, went through menopause at 54. She was left with severe vaginal dryness that caused itching and chafing. Childbirth had left her with a mild rectocele which had started to get worse.

 

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Fifteen years ago, I was a normal, happy wife and mum. Then overnight everything changed. I discovered I had cancer in both breasts.

Doctors warned this probably meant I had the BRCA gene which can lead to increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. They were right.

I had both breasts removed and expanders put in and then was told my ovaries and fallopian tubes would have to be removed as well. Apparently I went as white as a ghost when I heard but I told myself it would save my life and that was the important thing.

I was already peri-menopausal but it hadn’t affected me too much. I was still enjoying an active sex life. As a registered nurse, however, I knew straight away what now lay ahead: immediate complete menopause.

It was traumatic. I was so sore, I just didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t have sex – I didn’t have anything. I lost interest in my body image and put on weight. Looking back, when the hormones withdrew I think I probably withdrew into myself as well.

My husband just went along with it. I suppose it was fortunate we weren’t a younger couple. Everything would have felt even more difficult – and it was difficult enough.

Because I’d had two fast births, one of them breech, I’d suffered a rectocele which is when the rectum pushes the back wall of the vagina forward. It had never bothered me before. Now, with menopause, the supportive internal tissues became less taut and the bulge got worse. It meant that sometimes when I went to the toilet I’d have to push it back with my fingers in order to empty my bowels.

My vagina became painfully dry and itchy and it only took a little pull of the skin around the entrance to cause tearing. Having the BRCA gene meant I wasn’t able to use oestrogen creams so I consulted a natural therapist. “I’ll give you this plant-based oestrogen, that won’t hurt you,” she said and I despaired: “Of course it will. It’s just the same.”

It’s a worry when people do these kinds of things.

Despite all my problems, I didn’t discuss them with my doctor. At one point, because I still had a drive for intimacy and closeness, I did go to see a sex therapist but that was useless. I blamed myself for not having the kind of imagination that would make it work and after that I gave up until about 12 months ago, my daughter, who’s also a nurse, mentioned the MonaLisa Touch.

She’d been discussing it with a doctor and I immediately jumped online to learn more. It all seemed very sensible and logical. Because of my medical training, I could see immediately how laser resurfacing might help me, we’d been using it for years in the hospital, and I knew that mucous membranes in particular respond beautifully to laser.

By coincidence I also came across an older patient who had received the MonaLisa Touch. She was in her 80s but had been referred to a gynaecologist for laser resurfacing because her vagina was so unbearably dry and sore. She said it was fabulous and had very quickly relieved her pain and restored some nourishment to her vaginal walls.

Encouraged, I made an appointment with The Jade Room.

By the second treatment I was better. By the third I was noticeably different. I had four appointments in all and afterwards the rectocele was no longer a problem and I could go to the toilet without assistance.

I had a lubricating discharge for the first time in years which was good and my clitoris returned. It can sort of disappear as you get older.  The laser treatment also has a mode that treats that fragile skin around the perineum and introitus by stimulating collagen production and making it more supple so that helped too.

We haven’t resumed our sex life – I think my husband had given up to be honest – but I haven’t ruled it out.

I think the Mona Lisa is excellent, I wish more women knew about it and the difference it could make to our lives. The problem is that we’re too embarrassed to talk about issues like dryness and pain so we don’t know there are solutions but I bring it up at dinner parties all the time now.

Women need to talk about their lack of sex life. People’s lack of knowledge about their bodies is astounding.

 

No referral necessary to see our women’s health doctor.

 

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