Researchers have found in a trial that laser treatment is a viable alternative for combating certain unpleasant symptoms that women often experience as a result of falling estrogen levels.
Results of the study showed that laser therapy may be as effective as vaginal estrogen for fighting vaginal issues. They were published in journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) in October.
Women often experience a variety of undesirable symptoms during menopause due to falling estrogen levels. These genital and urinary issues are known, as a group, as genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM). They include vaginal itching, dryness, burning, discharge, and decreased elasticity.
Estimate has it that almost 1 in every 2 women going through menopause experience these symptoms. Reduction in vaginal caliber and constriction of vaginal opening play a role in the occurrence of these issues.
Laser therapy is a newer option available for dealing with these problems. The recent study – dubbed “The VeLVET Trial – confirms that it can be a very effective option for these purposes. It is the first to do a comparison of the safety and efficacy of laser treatment and vaginal estrogen.
Combating vaginal issues
The most common treatments for genital and urinary symptoms in women include topical products, such as moisturizers and lubricants. But these products may not offer much help for symptoms that are not mild.
Vaginal estrogen is more preferable for women with severe vaginal problems. The efficacy and safety of this treatment are not in doubt, especially with correct usage.
While vaginal estrogen is effective, however, many women find it hard to use according to instructions. There are those who do not complete the treatment as proper. Compliance rates range from roughly 50 percent to 74 percent, according to research.
Apart from the problem of compliance, researchers do not have significant data on long-term efficacy of vaginal estrogen. It is not clear if the therapy can be helpful to high-risk women, including those having cancer of the uterus or breasts.
Laser therapy can help
Lasers are more commonly being used on different parts of the body. Cosmetic surgeons or dermatologists, for instance, use them to increase collagen and elastin production for younger looking skin.
There is increasing interest in recent times in using fractional CO2 laser therapy for fighting vaginal issues. The use of this treatment for these purposes is still relatively new. However, research shows that women see the results in only about 12 weeks following the treatment.
In the current study, researchers followed up women who had laser therapy or vaginal estrogen for six months. They assessed the effects of these treatments on GSM symptoms, alongside sexual and urinary function.
The two procedures produced comparable improvements at six months.
According to the researchers, between 70 and 80 percent of the women who had the ether treatment option were “satisfied” or “very satisfied.” There was no report of serious adverse effects from the laser therapy.
Dr. Stephanie Faubion was cautious about the findings. The NAMS medical director indicated the need for further research on long-term safety and efficacy despite the findings.
“Although vagina laser therapy for treatment of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause is promising,” she said, “data are still lacking regarding long-term safety and efficacy using well-designed placebo-controlled studies.”