Michelle, 44, is a mum of three. She had vaginal lasering due to her concerns about a mild cervical prolapse, stress incontinence and painful sex.
My husband and I had always wanted three children – but my third came along a bit sooner than we’d planned. It meant I ended up with three under three years.
It’s turned out to be the best thing – nine years on, they’re all close. However, it did leave me with a problem. I’m only 155 cms tall and all of my babies were big, the first was 4.1 kilos. Having them so close gave my body no time to recover and put a lot of stress on my pelvic floor . As a result, one evening, I was taking a rare opportunity to enjoy a relaxing bath when I reached down between my legs and felt a bulge.
I panicked. ‘Oh my God what is that? Why is it there?
In tears, I called a friend who’s an obstetrician and gynaecologist. She said it shouldn’t really come as a surprise but it sounded as if I was suffering from a cervical prolapse. This happens when stress – ie babies – causes the pelvic floor and the tissues that keep the pelvic organs in place to weaken.
If those organs sag down into the vagina, that can weaken the vaginal wall – hence my bulge.
I’d had no idea such a thing could happen. Like many mums, I’d been given little information about the possible after-effects of childbirth and hadn’t been warned. Apparently, it’s very common. About half of all women who’ve had a child have some level of vaginal prolapse.
At first, the prolapse didn’t really affect me but then, when I returned to the gym and started doing high impact activities I could feel it. It wasn’t as if my insides were going to drop out or anything but I was aware of a heavy sensation or dragging.
Concerned, I saw my GP who referred me to an amazing obstetrician and gynaecologist. He reassured me it was a mild cervical and vaginal wall prolapse and that he’d keep an eye on it but, for now, it was best to do nothing.
Once I was in my 50s, I could have it tightened if I needed to but he advised against having the surgery any earlier. Delaying surgery until my muscles were looser and more relaxed meant I was more likely to enjoy a permanent result.
In the meantime, he warned me not to strain or lift anything heavy – not even groceries.
I adjusted life accordingly. I gave up gym and jogging but that didn’t really worry me as I’m lazy and didn’t like them much anyway! I just switched to Pilates which I loved and went to three times a week.
More of a problem was those times of the month when the prolapse became more obvious. In bed with my husband, I’d suddenly exclaim: “Oh that really hurt!” He couldn’t feel anything but I could. If I strained or was constipated, I was aware of the bulge as well which was a worry.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I also developed stress incontinence. If I sneezed, I’d leak and there were times I barely made it to the toilet. I’d have to stand there with my legs tightly crossed, waiting for the urge to ease before dashing to the bathroom.
In the end, the decision to seek help came when I hit peri-menopause in my mid-40s. I was getting hot flushes, struggling with my weight and suffering terrible vaginal dryness. It made sex so painful, I had to buy lubricants and there were days I found myself weeping to my husband that I felt as if my body was on a downhill slope.
I don’t know how long I’d have carried on like that if a girlfriend hadn’t told me about laser treatment – the MonaLisa Touch. She’d had the treatment herself and it had helped her.
I wasn’t sure at first. Another friend also recommended it but she’d had it done for cosmetic purposes. I didn’t want to go to a clinic alongside women having Botox. It seemed to me something that should be done by a properly trained women’s doctor.
If I hadn’t found The Jade Room and Dr Sally I don’t think I’d have gone ahead.
The treatment was really quick, there was no pain at all other than a little pinch and a bit of heat and no side-effects except for a bit of spotting and I’d had that explained to me.
It was so easy, in fact, I couldn’t believe it would make a difference but by the second treatment, it was really obvious.
The vaginal dryness had gone – and I mean ridiculously gone, to the point of being the exact opposite. I wasn’t expecting that at all.
By the final third session, the bulge no longer felt like a big smooth balloon, it felt wrinkly and tight and I was told that was due to my internal cells rejuvenating.
I went to see my gynaecologist to make sure I wasn’t imagining it and he confirmed that although the lasering wouldn’t lift my prolapse, it had toned the vaginal walls which reduced the sensation of the bulge and my vaginal lining was back to what it would have been in my twenties which made me feel really pleased!
I’ve since heard he is conducting clinical trials on the MonaLisaTouch at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney to see how it affects other menopausal women. It would be good to see it properly regulated, no longer dismissed as a cosmetic procedure and even eligible for rebate.
Today, after just three quick treatments, my vaginal dryness is just an unpleasant memory, I don’t feel the bulge, sex is pleasurable instead of painful and my sense of urgency to go to the toilet has been reduced by 80 percent. I can last for hours and hours now without needing to go and I’d need a really full bladder to have an accident.
I might even dodge the bullet of prolapse surgery. The bulging has gone so if this continues to work and annual top-ups keep things as they are, maybe I’ll be OK.
In fact my life feels quite radically transformed.
The lubricants have been thrown in the bin and psychologically I feel great and no longer as if everything is shrivelling up and dying down there.
I’ve been recommending it to all my friends and the funny thing is that, if he’s had a few drinks, my husband tells all his mates about it too. He can feel the difference when we’re together, he doesn’t have the worry of hurting me any more and best of all I’m so much happier.
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