Urinary incontinence is a common medical problem for plenty of women, and it becomes even more common as we get older. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, as many as 40 percent of women 65 years of age and older have some type of urinary incontinence. Although urinary incontinence can occur during just about any stage of a woman’s life, it starts to become more common as women near menopause and their estrogen levels begin to decline.
Perhaps because it’s so common (and maybe because it’s a little embarrassing to talk about), many women don’t seek help for their incontinence symptoms. It’s not uncommon for women to consider urinary incontinence as a “natural” part of aging, just part of the changes they can expect as they get older. But the fact is, there are safe, effective treatments for urinary incontinence, including treatments that don't rely on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). At Alpenglow Gynecology, we help women relieve urinary incontinence symptoms with the MonaLisa® Touch system, designed specifically for women's health.
What causes urinary incontinence?
Different factors can contribute to urinary incontinence, but for most women, the most common type of incontinence (stress incontinence) is caused by laxity in the muscles and tissues that surround the urethra and bladder. Women who have stress incontinence often experience urine leakage ranging from a few droplets to significant flow when they sneeze, cough, laugh, or perform strenuous activities (including sex).
Although some stress incontinence symptoms can occur following vaginal childbirth as a result of pushing and stretching, most women develop symptoms of stress incontinence as they get older and their estrogen levels drop. Even though we may think of estrogen as a “sex” hormone, influencing reproduction and menstruation, it plays many other roles as well, including helping to keep the vagina and genitourinary tract in good health. When estrogen levels decline, the genitourinary tract can lose its tonicity, and the vagina can become loose and flaccid. At the same time, lubrication of the tissues in and around the vagina also declines, leading to dryness, discomfort, irritation, and incontinence.
MonaLisa Touch: Effective treatment for urinary incontinence
The MonaLisa Touch is a special laser-based system that’s designed specifically for women’s health issues, including vaginal laxity and dryness (a condition called vaginal atrophy) and other issues affecting the genitourinary tract. The MonaLisa Touch system uses a wand-shaped applicator designed for vaginal insertion, so it’s very comfortable and very effective. The wand emits precise bursts of laser energy all around the surface, providing 360 degrees of treatment to ensure optimal results. Treatments take just a few minutes, and they’re performed right in the office without any need for anesthesia or downtime.
The energy emitted by the MonaLisa Touch applicator penetrates the vaginal tissue, creating tiny areas of controlled damage that stimulates your body’s natural healing responses. As your body responds, it increases its production of collagen and elastin, two fibers essential for healthy, firm, resilient tissue in and around the vagina. Production of both collagen and elastin sharply decline near and during menopause, increasing laxity and decreasing support and firmness in the genitourinary tract. In addition to stimulating increased production of these fibers, the laser energy also promotes natural lubrication to improve the overall health and function of the genitourinary tract.
While some women notice an improvement in their symptoms after a single treatment, most benefit from a series of treatments spaced out over several weeks. Since the final results depend on your body's own natural healing responses, it can take several weeks to experience the maximum benefits of your treatment. Once the initial series of treatments is complete, you can prolong your results with annual touch-up treatments.
Hormone-free incontinence treatment
HRT can be a good option for some women with urinary incontinence and symptoms of vaginal atrophy, but for women who don't want the risks associated with long-term use of hormones, MonaLisa Touch can be a safe, effective alternative. To learn more about MonaLisa Touch treatment at Alpenglow Gynecology and how it could help you relieve your symptoms of urinary incontinence, book an appointment online today.