BREAST CANCER VS VAGINAL DRYNESS
Dr. Nikos Naoum, Surgeon Gynecologist – President of the Hellenic Society of Cosmetic & Reconstructive Gynecology, speaks to Ciao Magazine, not only for the problem of vaginal dryness that emerges to women after the treatments for breast cancer but also about the solutions that exist.
Dr Naoum, we know that as we grow older it is expected that dryness will occur in the genital area. Nevertheless, it is not just these groups of women who face this problem, are they?
About 70% of women who have been treated for breast cancer face a vaginal dryness problem due to hormone therapy (menstrual interruption). The dryness of the vagina, among other problems it creates, causes a decrease in pleasure in sexual intercourse. This is usually a problem that negatively affects her psychology.
Why does vaginal dryness occur after treatments for breast cancer?
Vaginal dryness can occur due to the body’s reduced estrogen levels when treatments for breast cancer are being carried out. These treatments include chemotherapy or endocrine therapy (hormone therapy), as well as estrogen nihilism (menstrual cessation). Consequently, the drop in estrogen levels leads to reduced stimulation of receptors in the vagina, as a result of which the vaginal membranes become thinner, less elastic and produce fewer vaginal fluids.
What exactly is the symptoms of vaginal dryness?
Irritation and pruritus in the vaginal area, pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, frequent urination and urinary tract infections, pain during sex. I consider the most basic problem to be the deterioration in the quality of sexual life due to vaginal dryness. The woman, because of all these symptoms that I mentioned above, avoids sex and lacks an important part that ensures well-being and better relationships in her life.
How can vaginal dryness be treated?
The good news is that there are solutions for vaginal dryness. Most options focus on restoring the moisture of the vagina. Water-based vaginal lubricants, vaginal moisturizing gels and other prescribed treatments are usually administered. What is worth mentioning, is that there are more drastic and effective solutions in recent years that do not act locally and only temporarily but literally provide a solution to the problem. It is worth informing every woman and not only the patients who have done treatments for breast cancer, because vaginal dryness will sooner or later knock on the door to all women due to menopause where estrogen production is significantly reduced.
Do you want to tell us more about these treatments?
One treatment that exists is the O-shot (Orgasm Shot). It is an innovative, non-surgical treatment that revitalizes the vagina and increases sexual arousal. It is performed by infusion of hyaluronic acid and / or autologous PRP.
PRP is rich in platelets, plasma and stem cells, specially treated for use in this area, directly in the vaginal area in order to stimulate vaginal rejuvenation, with the ultimate goal of restoring female sexual dysfunction. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes and is performed under local anesthesia.
Is there any other method you use to treat vaginal dryness?
Yes, there is the Vagitense method. This method uses a fractional laser that works with carbon dioxide (CO2) that causes collagen regeneration. This neocolagenesis results in the immediate and rapid tightening of the muscles of the vagina. Thus, the problem of vaginal relaxation and all the other problems in the birth area, such as vaginal dryness, can be treated simply and quickly. The treatment it is done in the clinic, without sedation. It lasts 20′-30′ and the woman can return to her daily activities immediately after the end of the treatment. However, the number of repeat sessions required is determined by the profile of each woman who addresses the clinic.
Dr. Naoum are these treatments painless and are certainly effective?
The O-shot is a unique treatment available for female sexual dysfunction and is supported by scientific research, while for the Vagitense method I undoubtedly have to say that is the treatment using the latest technology. Both treatments are completely painless.
Do you think that women after breast treatment will discuss the problem of vaginal dryness with their doctor and seek solutions?
Unfortunately, there is taboo on this issue. There is not sufficient information, and the truth is that doctors avoid talking about issues like this one because of its sexual nature, so women do not have proper guidance on this. The best advice for the woman is to talk to the doctor about her problem, to be informed about the treatments that exist. It is a pity that there are solutions and a woman due to ignorance does not turn to them, claiming a better quality of life.