LASER SEX LIFE? Painless new treatments for your most intimate body part could reboot life between the sheets. Katie Becker investigates.
Last May, Rachel*, 33, had her first appointment at VSpot, a new medi-spa among the discreet dermatology and plastic surgery clinics of New York’s Upper East Side. But instead of a refreshed visage, VSpot promises a younger, healthier, more effortlessly orgasm-ing vagina.
“I have two kids and wanted everything back to what it was like pre-babies,” says Rachel. “The difference after the treatment was a lot easier without having to do as much, and both my husband and I were very happy.”
Within the past year and a half, no fewer than four new noninvasive treatments have launched in the US, claiming to revitalise one’s vagina using energies like radio frequency (ThermiVa), erbium:YAG (IntimaLase), or fractional CO2 (FemiLift, MonaLisa Touch) to stimulate collagen production and better blood flow. Afterward, women report that they are wetter, tighter, and more “elastic”. “The increased collagen leads to more friction during intercourse,” says Carolyn DeLucia, a gynaecologist at VSpot where they use the FemiLift. “With more blood vessels in the area, there is increased sensitivity that heightens the intensity of orgasms.”
The benefits usually emerge within hours and continue to improve in the following weeks, and the treatments are reportedly pain-free. While side effects can include spotting and tenderness, they are rare, and recommended downtime is minimal; at most, five days of abstinence from sex and tampons, but in many cases, you can have sex that same day.
Here’s how it works: With your feet up in stirrups, the doctor inserts a probe that sweeps 360 degrees of the vaginal canal with pulses of energy, explains Eric Sokol, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Stanford University Medical Center, currently conducting studies with the MonaLisa Touch. The skin responds by kicking off a flood of secretion and circulation, and activating collagen-creating cells that thicken and redevelop the vaginal walls. Eventually, even the pH and natural bacteria levels can start to improve, adds Mickey Karram, director of urogynaecology at the Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, who also uses the MonaLisa Touch. So far, results appear to last for at least a year before a maintenance visit is needed.
So, who is a candidate? Anyone who suffers from laxity due to ageing, childbirth, and/or “vaginal atrophy”, a term for severe dryness and stiffness caused by a drop in oestrogen. MonaLisa Touch is often recommended for atrophic symptoms, while ThermiVa is emerging as a favourite for tightening. Of course, as with all laser procedures, there are possible complications such as infection if downtime rules aren’t followed. “I would avoid this if you aren’t done having children,” says Cheryl Iglesia, a professor of obstetrics, gynaecology, and urology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. “You don’t want to risk scarring something like your cervix.” Karram’s concern is about who performs the procedure: “Be wary of dermatologists and plastic surgeons offering these treatments. The female sexual response is very complex.”
What remains hard to dismiss are the powerful anecdotes from women who have taken the plunge. Take Melanie*, 57, a mother of three adult sons (all delivered vaginally) who struggled with a worsening “looseness” and menopause-related dryness after the birth of her youngest 30 years ago. Then, last spring, Melanie’s urogynaecologist suggested ThermiVa. “It felt like I was in my 20s,” she says after three treatment sessions. “I regained sensations down there that I forgot I ever had.” Companies are listening: At least two more intervaginal treatments are in the pipeline for the US market, and VSpot has its eye on expanding the business. In Malaysia, vaginal rejuvenation, offered at clinics such as The M·A·C· Clinic and the Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre, is in demand. Sit tight for more innovations ... *Names have been changed.