GSM stands for genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Developed by the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health and the North American Menopause Society, the term is used to describe menopause symptoms that affect a woman’s genitals, sexual function, and urinary function. Unlike words like “atrophy,” which has a negative connotation, and “vagina,” which many patients avoid saying, it aims to be more accurate and socially acceptable. It was primarily established to enhance comfort and discussions between menopausal patients and their healthcare providers.
As a woman ages, her levels of estrogen and other hormones decrease, which affects her genital, sexual, and urinary health. This is especially true once her menstrual cycle stops, marking the onset of menopause. While menopause usually happens naturally for women sometime after age 45, it can also be triggered by medical procedures, such as a hysterectomy or chemotherapy.
Estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining vaginal elasticity and moisture, as well as urinary function. When estrogen decreases after menstrual periods cease, genitourinary symptoms of menopause occur. They include genital dryness, irritation and burning sensations, urgent needs to urinate, poor lubrication during sex, difficulties with sexual function, and pain during intercourse. GSM is progressive, tending to get worse over time without treatment.
Because GSM is a result of a decline in estrogen, treatment used to be limited to hormone therapy, which replaces lost estrogen through oral medication or vaginal applications, such as creams and suppositories. While effective, many women prefer alternative methods due to links between estrogen therapy and breast and uterine cancer. Laser therapy offers an effective and safe alternative. Lifestyle steps, such as limiting caffeine and bladder training exercises for urinary symptoms and using a lubricant during intercourse can also help manage symptoms.
MonaLisa Touch laser therapy can help manage GSM by stimulating cells in your vaginal tissue to produce more collagen. This helps restore moisture and function while minimizing any sexual pain. Drs. Rosenblatt and DiSciullo consider it the most most effective nonsurgical and nonhormonal solution for preventing and treating vaginal atrophy. MonaLisa Touch can also help treat urinary incontinence, and studies conducted in Italy showed the therapy can help improve vaginal laxity.
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