Genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), previously known as vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis is a collection of physical symptoms that may occur in the vulva, vagina, urethra and bladder after menopause. These symptoms may cause physical discomfort and can affect the vagina, urinary system and impact on sexual health.
GSM is a chronic condition caused by the body decreasing its production of the hormone oestrogen in the years leading up to menopause, during menopause and following menopause.
It is estimated that up to 45% of postmenopausal women may be affected by GSM, but the conditions often stays unreported and untreated.
Symptoms of GSM may involve changes to the vagina or urinary system and can include dryness, burning and irritation, discomfort and pain with intercourse, discharge as well as urinary urgency and recurrent urinary tract infections.
Unlike other symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes which tend to decrease over time, GSM can persist and recur post-menopause.
With reduced oestrogen in the body, the vagina loses its elasticity and the vaginal walls can become thin and dry. For some women, GSM can make intercourse painful. This discomfort can inhibit orgasm and lead to a reduced interest in sex.
Lack of oestrogen can also affect pH in the vagina, making the vaginal environment less acidic than it previously was. As a result, the risk of bacterial infection can increase, leading to an increased risk of urinary tract infections.
For those who are not keen to use hormonal treatment for various reasons can consider Laser treatment. This is based on non-ablative photothermal stimulation of collagen, shrinking and tightening of vaginal mucosa tissue and collagen-rich pelvic fascia. The procedure is incisionless and virtually painless, with no ablation, cutting, bleeding, or sutures. Recovery is extremely quick without need for the use of analgesics or antibiotics.
No special pre-op preparation or post-op precautions are necessary.
Patients can immediately return to their normal everyday activities.