We've Gotta Have it
Boost Your Libido–and Cure Your Incontinence
What’s New That You Can Do--For Down There
What if we told you that there’s a simple, painless treatment that could help you stop peeing yourself every time Jimmy Fallon delivers his opening monologue—plus, rev up your sex life?
Yes, it involves a laser to the labia (um, and possibly even inside the vagina), but before you say “aw hell no!” hear us out. Laser vaginal rejuvenation—the name given to a family of non-invasive treatments that claim to improve urinary incontinence and tighten lax lips—is a heck of a lot less involved than going under the knife for, say, a labiaplasty (to get rid of “mud flaps”), or for a mid-urethral sling (to keep you from leaking when you laugh or cough).
Laser vaginal rejuvenation can significantly improve your quality of life, in as little as one session. “This new field of laser technologies offers a profoundly positive step forward for women with pelvic floor dysfunction, incontinence, or changes due to childbirth or genetic aging,” says Ellen Marmur, a dermatologist in New York City. “It is especially helpful after bearing children in one’s thirties or forties.” In the last two years, no less than four noninvasive treatments intended for use inside and outside the vagina have launched in the U.S. Coincidence? Leah Millheiser, MD, a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a clinical assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine doesn’t think so: “Women feel more empowered now than they used to. [They] say what is on their minds–and in no place is it more obvious than in the sexual healthcare arena.”
Jennifer Walden, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Austin, TX, attributes the growing attention to vaginas to the rise of younger women seeking genital hair removal and being able to actually see their genitals. With “the rise of social media and instant gratification, there has been a spike in women wanting their vaginas to look good,” she says.
Or maybe it’s just that the existing vaginal rejuvenation treatments were so abysmal. Who really has time (or patience) for Kegels or to apply a messy estrogen cream? As for surgery, some of us just aren’t willing to go under the knife for camel toe.
These new laser treatments, which include ThermiVa, a radio-frequency device, diVa (the combination of an erbium:YAG and 1470 diode laser), FemiLift and MonaLisa Touch (fractional CO2 lasers), all function similarly by creating microscopic wounds to the skin, which trigger the production of collagen that bulks up the vaginal wall, improving blood flow. Each session takes from five to thirty minutes—depending on the device—and you can count on receiving two or three treatments, spaced two to six weeks apart. Depending on what part of your vagina’s anatomy requires tightening (inside or out), you may not be able to visually see the results. But you can expect to feel tighter, and like your vagina is more elastic and better lubricated (which all adds up to less incontinence and reduced pain during sex).
Vaginal rejuvenation probably won’t bother your partner either: “The increased collagen leads to more friction during intercourse, which heightens the intensity of orgasms,” says Carolyn Delucia, MD, a gynecologist at VSpot in New York City, a women’s sexual health and wellness medi-spa, where they use the FemiLift. “We’ve had husbands call to thank us.”
So what exactly can you count on if you schedule a vaginal rejuvenation treatment? This reporter had the opportunity to try FemiLift (all sacrifice in the name of science, of course). It felt a bit like a sonogram. With my feet up in stirrups, Dr. Delucia inserted a probe that emitted energy into my vaginal canal. (Despite how this sounds, it was completely painless—though it should be noted that different lasers can yield different sensations.) The treatment took about five to ten minutes. Prices vary depending on where you are in the country, but at VSpot, FemiLift will run you $600–$1,500 per session. (As a reporter, I was told to come for three free visits spaced a few weeks apart for results that would last up to a year before a touchup was needed. I have yet to schedule my two follow-ups, but I plan to.)
Dr. Delucia told me that the best candidates include anyone who suffers from urinary incontinence, laxity—the aforementioned camel toe—due to aging or childbirth, and/or “vaginal atrophy,” otherwise known as the severe dryness and stiffness caused by a drop in estrogen, usually from menopause or breastfeeding. (Anyone with active herpes or problems healing are told to avoid any of these laser treatments.) And while research is ongoing to determine which device is best for treating each specific condition, Dr. Millheiser says MonaLisa Touch is often recommended for atrophic symptoms. Common short-term risks of the laser therapies include swelling and redness; since long-term data is not yet available, it’s difficult to know what, if any, long-term risks exist.
If libido is your chief concern, less invasive options, like the Fiera Personal Care Device (Arousal Device–prices start at $200 at fiera.com), a tiny plastic contraption that clips onto the labia to get your blood flowing to the area, are available. But for women seeking to tighten up—in order to increase sexual pleasure or decrease leaks—relief may come in the form of a wand. Now if only there was a way to zap away menopause.