How can lasers help in stress incontinence?
Lasers strengthen and tighten the structural support of the vaginal wall on which the bladder sits. When stress incontinence occurs the vaginal wall has become lax and doesn’t support the bottom surface of the bladder wall which sinks into the vagina and alters the dimensions of the bladder sphincter, by strengthening, firming and improving the structural support of the bladder wall. This alters the anatomy, improves the bladder sphincter function, and improves the stress and mixed incontinence.
What do I have to do find out if this laser treatment will help my stress incontinence?
Firstly, we offer a full diagnostic consultation with one of our experienced Gynaecologists. In that consultation, after history and examination, a full urodynamic study is done and an ultrasound and pelvic examination is performed to diagnose the extent and severity of stress incontinence. Initially prior to the consultation, you will be sent a pre-consultation questionnaire that will help and guide as to the most appropriate investigations that will be performed at your consultation. In many instances the first laser treatment can be done following this consultation.
Lasers are often associated with pain, with numbing cream required. Does this occur with lasers in the vagina?
No, it does not. The type of mode of operation in the vagina does not create any significant pain or discomfort. There is no breakage of the vaginal wall. There is usually no bleeding or discharge. There is no shedding or peeling. Following the procedure, there is no discomfort. And the only precaution is to avoid sexual intercourse, depending on the treatment for three to five days.
How can a laser that doesn’t hurt or cause any problems afterwards strengthen the vaginal wall and support the bladder?
Lasers can be used in many modes. Both the CO2 and Erbium Yag laser used in Gynaecology can be operated in a special mode, not to break the lining of the mucosa. It does, however penetrate very deeply into the vaginal wall. They have three major effects, all resulting in strengthening of the vaginal wall. Firstly, the heat contracts the vaginal tissue, muscle and protein within the collagen fibres. Secondly, it strengthens and thickens the vaginal wall by initiating the production of extra new collagen. This new collagen process, continues for many months after the treatment, adding to the vaginal firmness. Thirdly, the main process increases production of the vaginal wall matrix of interstitial fluid, making the vaginal wall thicker and stronger and increasing its moisturisation.
Do the vaginal lasers help with all forms of bladder leakage, incontinence?
No, it is very effective in the early stages of stress and mixed incontinence. It does not help with urge incontinence. The type of incontinence is investigated in a full history and examination, urodynamic studies and ultrasound done in our Clinic.
How do I find out what type of incontinence I suffer from and whether the treatment is likely to help me?
We perform an extensive series of tests in your consultation, including ultrasounds, assessment and testing in the urodynamic laboratory. Our Gynaecologists are experienced and well qualified to diagnose and make recommendations for treatments.
Are there other treatments available for the types of stress incontinence that are not improved with laser gynaecology?
Yes, there are several treatments, usually surgical options, that are Gynaecologist performed. These will be discussed at time of consultation. They include such techniques as, sling support of the bladder.
How long do the treatment results last for? And are there any follow up treatments required?
The length of time between maintenance treatments depends on the degree of vaginal laxity and prolapse and the age of the patient. The greater the degree of laxity of the vaginal wall, and the greater the age and the looser the collagen structural support, the more frequent the maintenance treatments are required. They are usually necessary once, twice or three times a year. The maintenance treatments are a quick, simple treatments without complications.
I have a mild vaginal and cervical prolapse, which is adding to my stress incontinence. Does this treatment help this condition also?
Yes it can. Depending on the severity of symptoms, the degree of prolapse may be reduced and the pressure on the bladder also reduced, providing another benefit of the vaginal tightening and strengthening procedures.
I also suffer from vaginal itching and dryness and discomfort during sexual intercourse. Does this treatment affect that?
Yes, it significantly improves on all these conditions. The laser treatment, by improving the strength and remodelling the vaginal mucosa including thickening the vaginal wall and the structural collagen support and interstitial matrix, makes the vagina much more moist, stops the irritation, causes increased lubrication. This improves sexual satisfaction and gratification and reduces vaginal pain and discomfort and vaginal irritation. *results may differ from person to person