Adult sexual health is an important part of being an adult. We all know that, so let's talk about female sexual health for a little bit. There's a range of 'gray' between sexual function when we are in our 20's to sexual function in our 70's and beyond. Our bodies gradually change. We have babies - carry those little dudes and stretch our muscles. And along with hormones, babies, maybe surgeries, etc there's the things only good friends talk about- urinary incontinence, vaginal dryness, decreased sensation, maybe even some discomfort/pain with intercourse.
Let's really define some of the 'gray' area here. This procedure isn't just for post-menopausal women. This is for the mom of little kids who can't do jumping jacks anymore because she leaks. This is for the woman who finds her body isn't keeping up with her brain during intimacy (typically when couples start using lubrication supplements). This is for the woman who had a tear during delivery and that scar isn't very flexible and so intercourse is a uncomfortable (yes, this can help scar revision in this area). This is for the breast cancer survivor since this doesn't involve hormones at all. And, yes, this is for ANY woman who is dealing with these issues.
Traditionally, there were only pills for urinary incontinence along with pelvic floor physical therapy and creams/pills for vaginal dryness (usually in the form of hormones after long discussions on risk/benefit). They ALL have unwanted side effects whether that be a cotton mouth or messy creams. Now I have something really awesome to offer... VOTIVA.
WHAT IS IT?
VOTIVA is a procedure that uses bipolar radiofrequency to improve vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence.
HOW DOES IT DO THAT?
By treating the vaginal mucosa with the radiofrequency for a finite amount of time (typically ~15 minutes) at a certain temperature (40-43°C) the fibroblasts are stimulated to build collagen and elastin. Capillaries are stimulated to grow. The collagen and elastin help make the tissue more pliable and also supports the urethra helping incontinence. Improved blood flow to the area helps with sensation and lubrication. The energy delivered also helps tighten pelvic floor muscles to improve vaginal laxity and also helps to avoid urinary incontinence. Treating the external genitalia helps improve blood flow (hence sensation), and also tightens lax skin and that can help improve how our bodies feel on a day to day basis.
DOES IT HURT?
No! It doesn't hurt at all. You do feel pressure as the vagina is treated. When the external genitalia is treated, you feel warmth. There is a max temperature of 43°C (109.4°F), and the hot water heaters are typically set at 48.9°C (120°F), so your skin is at a safe temperature to not be hurt.
IS THERE ANY PREP?
Only to remove the hair externally several days prior to the procedure in order for the contacts to be on skin and not hair. The energy is delivered much more effectively. For most women, you will also need a pap smear that is within two years.
ANY DOWN TIME?
NONE! The only thing is to refrain from intercourse for 48 hours. The tissue may be slightly swollen (heat was applied for ~15 minutes so that just makes sense that the area is swollen), so adding friction to swollen, more fragile tissue isn't the best idea. You can exercise and do all your daily activities normally right after the procedure though.
WHEN DO I GET RESULTS?
Not immediately. Some women have told me they have improvements within the first couple of weeks, but that is not typical. Usually, women report improvements in urinary incontinence just as they are approaching the second treatment, and the vaginal dryness is most helped after the second and third treatment. Externally, you can see a definite difference immediately after the first procedure!
HOW MANY TREATMENTS ARE NEEDED?
The first time you have this done, you should have 3 sessions. One every month for three months. Then, you will need 'touch-ups'. Timing varies from ~9-15 months for each woman, but you only need one session. Don't let too much time pass, otherwise you may need a full treatment again. Our bodies go back to 'baseline' eventually - responding to hormones (or lack thereof in some cases) and so touch-ups are necessary.
WILL INSURANCE COVER THIS?
Typically not, unfortunately. Some women have used HSA/FSA funds to cover the cost, and we do offer Care Credit to help making this an easy option to take advantage of by anyone. When you add up the cost of all the pills/creams/pads that are purchased in a year as the alternative, most of the time the cost is equivalent.
Not really. One risk is that your symptoms are helped some, but not completely. Women have a 93% satisfaction rate with this procedure across the board, so most are quite happy they have had this done! The temperature is controlled and so while burns may be a potential risk, that has not been an issue with Votiva. In July 2018 the FDA did put out a warning for vaginal rejuvenation procedures because of incorrect marketing claims and burns that were reported (with laser procedures -this is not a laser). In November 2018, the FDA did agree that Votiva was in compliance with their guidelines.
Sexual health is important. Votiva can help. If you'd like to talk more about Votiva and set up your consult, please call the office at 865-675-4342.