Why Vaginal Health Is Important.
Vaginal rejuvenation has become a hot topic over the last ten years. Why is this even a thing? Well, we are all living longer healthier lives and why not keep all our parts in working order. But it is not just about staying young and limber. Vaginal rejuvenation can also prevent infections
Vagina and Age
Menstruating women have the benefit of hormones such as estrogen that keep the vagina healthy. Estrogen receptors in the vaginal tissue keep the cells healthy leading to a thick, moist lining. As these cells are constantly growing and turning over, they are sloughed-off. The sloughed-off cells contain glycogen that acts as a food source for healthy bacteria such as lactobacillus species. These probiotics help to prevent vaginal infections and urinary infections by keeping the vaginal environment acidic.
Pregnancy, birth-control and aging can decrease the estrogen level leading to thin, dry vaginal mucosa and thus increasing the risk of infection. The vaginal environment changes and we lose the healthy bacteria.
Probiotics Are Great but Not On Their Own
Consuming healthy bacteria through fermented foods or taking a probiotic is great. Probiotics have wonderful supportive effects on our gut health, vaginal health, weight control, inflammatory reduction, immunity, and even mental health. However, for women, taking all the probiotics in the world won't do much if your vaginal tissue is not healthy. You need to give the bacteria a place to live so that it will kick out the "bad bacteria"
We have some great probiotics in our Probiotic Collection!
Healthy Vagina Options
There are tons of healthy options for keeping the vagina thick and healthy. Here are a few:
Hormonal Management Options:
- Hormone "Replacement" or "Therapy": For years traditional medical doctors have used hormone "replacement" with oral, topical, or pellet prescription hormones, or bio-identical products. These products go through your whole system. They can have full-body hormonal improvements but often don't have the desired effect on the vaginal mucosa. This is considered to be due to decrease blood flow to the vagina tissue due to age.
- Topical Prescription Vaginal Hormones: Traditional medical doctors have also been using topical estrogen and other hormonal creams, ovules, and suppositories that are inserted into the vagina to help with the vaginal tissue. These prescriptions work great but can be expensive. Some people are irritated by the creams because many contain propylene glycol, which can be very irritating to mucosal membranes.
- Julva: Created by Dr. Anna Cabeca, Julva contains DHEA a hormonal precursor, along with many botanicals for the rejuvenation of the vulva. Julva is a great non-prescription option. However, some people experience tingling when first using this product. This may be a result of the thinness of the vulvo-vaginal tissue. Often this sensation improves with continuous usage.
- Estrovera: Derived from Siberian Rhubarb, Estrovera’s key ingredient, ERr731, has been used safely and effectively for over 20 years and is supported by clinical studies. Estrovera provides relief for multiple menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep disturbances, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and sexual problems.
- DHEA: DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by your body's adrenal glands. It is a precursor to male and female hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Precursors are substances that are converted by the body into a hormone. DHEA production peaks in your mid-20s. In most people, production gradually declines with age. DHEA has been used as alternative hormone therapy.
- Luvena: Luvena is a non-hormonal lubricant that contains "food" or pre-biotics to support the healthy microbiome of the vagina. This product does not do anything to increase the thickness of the vaginal mucosa but it does help to feed the lactobacillus species bacteria that keep the vagina healthy. This product is great for anyone looking for a lubricant or wants to prevent urinary tract and vaginal infections.
- CO2 Lift Vaginal: Transdermal Carboxytherapy promotes the proper penetration of carbon-dioxide through the epidermal layer of the skin which naturally stimulates the oxygen molecules in your body to be delivered directly to the skin it is applied to be treated. This product aids in the regeneration of the tissue. CO2 Lift Vaginal is supplied as intravaginal treatments. Depending on the thinness of the vaginal tissue 5-15 days of treatment are recommended followed by once-monthly treatment to maintain the tissue. This therapy is easily performed at home.
- vFit & vFit Plus: vFit is the first and only intimate wellness solution using red lights (LEDs), gentle heat, and sonic technology to stimulate tissue and promote improved hydration, sensation, sexual function, and most importantly, confidence—all from the privacy of your home. The vFit can be purchased online and has slightly less functionality than the vFit Plus that can be purchased in a doctor's office.
- Laser Therapy: Lasers have been the gold standard in tissue regeneration since the 1980's however it wasn't until 2016. that the Mona Lisa Touch was available to treat the vagina in the United States. Laser therapies work well and typically take 3-5 visits spaced about a month apart. They are performed by a healthcare worker or aesthetic technician and take less than 5 minutes to complete. Internal treatments are comfortable with sometimes only slight cramping. External treatments require numbing medication or anesthesia. Results can be felt after the first treatment but completion of a full course of treatments will maintain the tissue for approximately a year. Yearly maintenance will continue to keep the tissue healthy.
- Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy uses sound waves to create heat to regenerate collagen production. There are many machines on the market that can do these treatments. Treatments need to be performed in a doctor's or aesthetics office. Depending on the manufacturer treatments take between 12-45 minutes and should be repeated monthly for a total of 3 treatments. Periodic maintenance treatments every 6-12 months will keep the tissue healthy.
- Platelet Rich Plasma/ Stem Cells: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is harvested through processing your own blood. It contains growth factors that stimulate tissue regeneration. Stem cells can be harvested through your own fat or can be purchased from other tissue sources. PRP or stem cells can be injected into any tissue to stimulate healing and regrowth of tissue. These treatments need to be performed by healthcare practitioners.
Combined Therapies Work the Best
Combining therapies for additional healthy benefits and longevity of treatments works the best. For example, if you are getting laser treatments, combining vFit or CO2 Lift will give you better, longer-lasting results. Consuming probiotics and fermented foods help increase the number of healthy bacteria in the body. Adding Luvena will also help to feed the bacteria until they can take hold or until you finish other regenerative therapies. Treatments geared at vaginal support create an environment that supports and maintains the healthy vaginal microbiome. A healthy vagina decreases the risks of pelvic infections such as urinary tract and vaginitis.
Healthy Tissue & Comfort
Healthy, moist, thick vaginal tissue not only helps to prevent infection but aids in comfort. Comfort when walking and doing activities. Prevents chapped feeling from underwear. And most of all, vaginal health supports a vibrant sex life. Sex has added benefits of improving cardiovascular health, maintaining pelvic blood flow, and the production of feel-good and bonding hormones.
Take the Steps For A Healthy Vagina
Take the steps for a healthy vagina, will have spillover into a healthy life. Because you are greater than the sum of your parts. Each area of our body and mental health that is supported provides a greater overall effect in your life.
Author: Dr. Betsy Greenleaf DO(Distinguished), MBA
Dr. Betsy Greenleaf is America's first female board-certified urogynecologist and host of a podcast SOME OF YOUR PARTS.