As 40 year-old breast cancer survivor with recently removed ovaries, I have explored my options for vaginal health and landed on laser treatments.
The First Treatment
The day came. It was time for my first diVa laser treatment. I slid my way onto the table and threw the paper sheet over my lap.
Dr. Cho slowly opened the door with a sheepish, “Hiii… are you ready to go? Any last questions?”
I honestly think I had asked every possible question. I was as ready as I’d ever be.
To prepare, Dr. Cho put me in protective eyewear and swabbed the inside of my vagina with numbing cream. I laid on the table for 20 minutes, waiting for the cream to take effect.
I gave myself a pep talk as I stared at the ceiling tiles. “You can do hard things. You survived chemo and five surgeries. You’ll be totally fine. Well, fine-ish anyways.”
Dr. Cho popped back into the room. We reviewed what I would experience with the diVa’s patterning. Tiny holes (like aerating a lawn) in the vagina.
I laid on my back and took deep breaths and Dr. Cho inserted the laser. I jumped as the first laser blasted a microscopic hole in my vaginal wall. It didn’t hurt per say, but it was startling. It felt like a rubber band snap. I began to count. 1, 2, 3, 4…. All the way to 30. 30 snaps.
Dr. Cho stopped and asked, “How’s it going?”
I have to admit, I was happy she was done. It was started to feel a bit sore.
“That was a little surprising. Is that it?” I asked.
“Uh.. no. I went around 360 degrees on the very top. Now I need to move the laser down. And keep working my way down your vagina.” Dr. Cho explained.
This, of course, was not what I wanted to hear. Dr. Cho could read my shocked face ready to ask the question.
“…and it depends how long your vagina is, but usually it takes about 12–20 times around to make it all the way down.”
I gave myself another little inner monologue pep talk.
You got this. You birthed children. And survived cancer. Just breathe deep and think happy thoughts.
I got my head in the game and made it. 30 snaps around and 15 times down. That is a total of 450 rubber band snaps for anyone keeping count.
Thank god. I dropped my legs like wet noodles, finally letting the tightened muscles in my abdomen relax. I think Dr. Cho noticed my finish-line posturing.
“Oh, we’re not done quite yet. I like to do an extra treatment on the front of the vaginal wall where the bladder rests. This will be really helpful to for urinary control.”
Back up she went with the laser. Since she was only going around 180 degrees, I counted 15 snaps. 15 times down.
I checked my watch. From start to finish, about 7 minutes had passed. 675 snaps. Not pleasant by any means, but tolerable.
The post-procedure instructions were relatively simple. Healing would only take a few days, so for the next 72 hours… panty liners for the tinge of spotting and no touching the vaginal tissue (intercourse, tampons, water, etc.)
I didn’t move a whole lot the rest of the day. It almost felt like a sunburn. The following day I didn’t feel ready to lift weights or do my normal exercise, but I was moving around fine. By the third day, I was almost back to normal!
Since I was coming into this process with healthy vaginal tissue (it hadn’t yet atrophied) Dr. Cho said I may not notice too much of a difference. I was hoping for maintenance, not improvement. However, I am happy to report that I did notice a slight increase in moisture and overall sensation.
Dr. Cho recommended three treatments (spaced out about 1 month apart). To my delight, the following two treatments were exponentially easier. Now that I knew what to expect, the 675 snaps seemed to fly by (or at least move by at a brisk walking pace). Also, the recovery (bleeding, soreness) was less each time.
10 out of 10 would recommend. In a less than desirable situation, menopausal at age 40 with no options for estrogen, Dr. Cho was a blessing. She validated my concerns and offered me an option for longevity of vaginal health.