The Vagina Monologues

In the quest for women’s health and happiness, do not ignore the most unique feminine feature of your physical being.
Photograph by Alexander Krivitskiy

by Dr. Gail King

Most of us women take our vaginal health for granted. Oh, to be young and unaware of problems that lie ahead. As a vaginal health expert, I commonly encounter these four women’s issues.

Have you ever delivered a baby vaginally? Chances are things are not the way they once were. Kegel exercises done properly and regularly do strengthen pelvic floor muscles. Symptoms that don’t resolve can be easily surgically rectified.   

Menopause creates its own unique set of dilemmas. The vagina has abundant estrogen receptors and undergoes predictable degenerative changes when the hormone is lacking. Tissues become thin, losing elasticity, moisture and strength. The phrase “use it or lose it” definitely applies because regular intercourse or even using a vibrator will help to maintain the vaginal caliber. You can decrease your risk of urinary tract infections by “practicing preventive peeing” before and after sex. Estrogen used locally or systemically restores tissue integrity. For those for whom hormones are not an option, there are FDA-approved vaginal lasers to improve cellular health.

Aesthetic Gynecology is one of the most rapidly expanding cosmetic fields. Women who undergo these procedures report improved self-esteem. I offer three valuable options. One is labiaplasty, which alters the appearance of the external genitalia. Another is Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation, a procedure used to enhance sexual gratification. In a newly available procedure, platelet-rich plasma and stem cells can be injected directly into intimate anatomical locations to enhance sensation. Naturally, these elective procedures are quite popular and increasingly requested.

Think you are not at risk for cervical cancer? It is almost universally caused by high-risk strains of the Human Papilloma Virus. Infection rates for unvaccinated adults hovers around 80 percent, and that virus stays in your body for life. Pap smears can detect if the virus is actively growing or currently causing precancerous, yet treatable, cervical cell changes.

The FDA recently approved the Gardasil 9 vaccine for women aged 27-45, expanding upon the prior indication for boys, girls and young adults aged 9-26. Vaccination has been shown to significantly reduce cancer rates.

Take an active role in preserving your most unique feminine feature. I recommend seeing your gynecologist yearly in order to receive all preventive screenings and to discuss your options when problems arise.

Dr. Gail King, the medical director of Regen Aspen, is also the author of Legs Up! The Ultimate Troubleshooting Guide for Your Vagina.