I’ve debated endlessly with myself about publishing this post. The truth is, this is an adult situation, and I’m going to discuss some delicate matters, so you’ve been warned. In the end, I thought that other women out there might be dealing with the same issues I’ve had and not to share would be wrong.
First some history. In 2007 I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I had a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation therapy. The lump was estrogen receptive, so I was placed on the drug tamoxifen, an estrogen inhibitor, for a period of five years. Everything went beautifully, but I continued menstruating heavily and in 2011 my doctors decided I needed to have an oophorectomy (hysterectomy plus removal of my ovaries, Fallopian tubes, the whole shebang.)
Shortly after that I realized that sexual intercourse, an act of which I was tremendously fond, had become unbearably painful. It was like one day a switch was shut off and my vagina ceased to be my friend.
Oh, we coaxed it, and lubricated it. I sent off to Europe for a product guaranteed to make my vagina a welcoming place again. My radiologist, Dr. Sapiente, sent me home with a set of dilators in Easter egg pastels. We tried lidocaine swabs. Nothing helped.
My gynecologist at the time prescribed the topical steroid, Premarin, and for one glorious month I was on speaking terms with my vagina. Unfortunately, when my oncologist found out I was taking it she put her foot down and took it away from me, and we were back to being frenemies.
Poor Studly was, and continues to be, so patient, and I must say I’ve been a trooper, too. Wine helps, lots and lots of wine. The act still hurts, but I don’t care as much.
When we moved to Florida I told our new family doctor about my problem and asked if there were any new treatments for women like me. He responded, “Is it still that important to you?” I wanted to slap him, but instead I began the search for another doctor.
My new doctor is female, and she referred me to a gynecologist who uses a relatively new procedure using lasers to stimulate the vagina to create its own collagen. I saw the specialist on Wednesday, and for the first time in six years I feel hopeful that we can be friends again.
The procedure isn’t covered by health insurance, and the initial package of three treatments can vary in price from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the part of the country in which one resides. Annual follow up treatments run about $500.
At my doctor’s office the procedure is known as the Mona Lisa Touch (they have a website: http://www.monalisatouch.com/), but I understand there are several other companies in the market with different monikers.
My first treatment is scheduled in early March. If I haven’t put everyone off I’ll provide updates, not to be confused with play by play. That would just be wrong. Send good thoughts. I will appreciate them.
Oh, my new gynecologist talked to me extensively about new research regarding Premarin and he’s started me on a new prescription. Things really are looking up down there.
Peace and friendship, people.