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Posts made in December 2019

Vaginal Atrophy: Non-hormonal or Hormonal Treatment?

While vaginal atrophy may sound hopeless, it’s not. There are several things you can do to offset the thinning, inflammation, and dryness that comes with lowered estrogen, a common occurrence in post-menopausal women and others. 

Award-winning doctor, Richard Farnam, MD, specializes in robotic gynecologic surgery and women’s pelvic medicine at his Texas Urogynecology & Laser Surgery Center in El Paso, Texas. One of our country’s first board-certified specialists in urogynecology, Dr. Farnam helps patients facing urinary issues and gynecological problems, such as vaginal atrophy, at his state-of-the-art medical center.

Symptoms, Causes, & Solutions for Vaginal Atrophy

The main symptoms of vaginal atrophy include itching, dryness, incontinence, decreased sexual desire, and even lowered self-esteem. It can be caused by:

  • Childbirth
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, which attacks our body’s moisture-producing cells
  • Pre-menopausal removal of the ovaries
  • Breastfeeding
  • Radiation or chemotherapy treatments
  • Anti-estrogen medications prescribed for endometriosis, fibroids, or other issues

Dr. Farnam treats your condition in two ways:

Hormonal Treatments 

  • Creams and gels applied externally to the skin
  • Skin patches that carry hormones into your system
  • Osphena tablets taken orally, which work like estrogen to thicken vaginal walls
  • Hormones Estrace and Premarin, which you apply directly to your vaginal tissue
  • Vaginal estrogen ring or tablets, which fit right into your vagina

Nonhormonal Choices

Many women cannot take estrogen due to certain health conditions, such as estrogen-sensitive cancer or previous blood clots. Dr. Farnam offers a variety of non-hormonal options to improve vaginal atrophy, such as vaginal moisturizers or FemiLift Vaginal Laser Therapy. 

FemiLift Vaginal Laser Therapy 

This revolutionary laser increases blood flow within your vaginal walls. The minimally invasive procedure works wonders on stress and urge incontinence and other symptoms of vaginal atrophy.

Dr. Farnam or our nurse practitioner, Vilma Bohlmann, MSN-FNP-C, apply this painless laser directly into your vagina. In just three sessions spread across a three-month period, patients experience:

  • An increase in collagen production
  • Improvement in stress incontinence
  • More sexual feeling in the area
  • Less painful intercourse
  • Better lubrication

Further advice for vaginal dryness

If your condition is mild, Dr. Farnam may suggest water-based vaginal moisturizers or over-the-counter lubricants. Natural products, such as vitamin E suppositories and aloe vera, even coconut or olive oil, can add moisture.

Use it or lose it

Women who remain sexually active can maintain good blood flow and muscle tone in the area. It’s also important to avoid products that may increase dryness, such as:

  • Hot bubble baths
  • Scented soaps
  • Lotions
  • Douches

Your hormonal life cycle

Throughout your life, your body undergoes myriad of hormonal changes, primarily related to estrogen.

During puberty, estrogen levels increase and vaginal walls thicken. The area’s pH levels change as well, making the area more susceptible to infection.

In childbirth, estrogen also increases. 

After menopause, your circulating estrogen levels greatly drop, causing a decrease in collagen and elastin, which may result in vaginal atrophy.

We’re here to help

Up to 40% of postmenopausal women suffer from issues related to vaginal atrophy, although only around one-third of them discuss the condition with their doctor. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to diagnosing and treating women’s health concerns. If you suffer from dryness or pain due to vaginal atrophy or other gynecological condition, Dr. Farnam or our Nurse Practitioner at Texas Urogynecology & Laser Surgery Center gladly discuss your concerns. Speak up and call today.

How Botox Can Help the Fight Against Pelvic Pain

Chronic pelvic pain stems from a range of conditions, alone or in combination, and can make your life difficult because of the ongoing and sometimes unknown reasons behind pain that lasts for six months or longer. A common result of the various causes behind pelvic pain is muscle spasms and cramps. Because of this, help for chronic pelvic pain comes from an unexpected source. Botox® is not only a cosmetic treatment. Originally developed to treat issues with eye muscles, it’s become an effective treatment for pelvic pain caused by contracted muscles.

Reasons for pelvic pain

Often, even the site of pelvic pain is difficult to define. You may feel a general sense of discomfort or pain in your lower abdomen without a focal point for these sensations. The experience can range from dull ache to sharp pain, or it may feel like pressure originating deep within you. Sensations can be constant or intermittent. It may also manifest as painful intercourse or urination.

Though sometimes a single cause may be the culprit, many women have a combination of disorders causing pelvic pain. Some of the more common contributors include:

  • Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease: scarring that results from long-term infections
  • Endometriosis: uterine wall tissue growing outside the uterus, throughout your pelvis
  • Uterine fibroids: non-cancerous growths within uterine walls
  • Irritable bowel syndrome: the bloating, constipation, and diarrhea from IBS can contribute to pelvic pain
  • Musculoskeletal issues: disorders of the bones, muscles, joints, and connective tissue in the pelvis
  • Ovarian remnants: tissue remaining in the body after hysterectomy
  • Painful bladder syndrome: pain originating with the bladder
  • Pelvic congestion syndrome: varicose veins in your bladder, which may contribute to pelvic pain

How Botox works

Derived from the same toxin that causes botulism, Botox is perhaps best known for its use in relaxing the muscles that cause worry lines and crow’s feet. However, it was originally used to stop irregular muscle movements around the eyes, which would interfere with patients’ vision.

The botulinum toxin is a paralytic neurotoxin. When purified and enormously diluted, it can influence muscle tissue to relax around the site of its injection. When other treatment methods for chronic pelvic pain don’t produce adequate results, a series of Botox injections may provide relief.

Regardless of the cause of the muscle contractions causing your pelvic pain, these muscles return to a relaxed state after Botox injection. With this relaxation, any pelvic pain resulting from contraction should be eased. Although this doesn’t cure the underlying reasons for your pain, it does offer extended relief when it’s effective.

Though the use of Botox for pelvic pain is promising, a range of treatments may work for you. Contact Dr. Farnam and the team at Texas Urogynecology & Laser Surgery Center to learn more about your options. Call the office directly or use the Request Appointment button on the website. It’s time to break free from chronic pelvic pain.