CO2 fractional laser therapy might relieve pain and improve vulvar tissue health in women with vestibulodynia, scientists have reported.
Vestibulodynia refers to pain in the vestibule area of a woman’s genitals, located at the entrance to the vagina. Some women experience minor discomfort, but for others, penetrative sex is quite difficult.
Past research suggests that CO2 fractional laser therapy could be helpful for women with vestibulodynia. The present paper focuses on the safety and efficacy of this treatment.
The 16-week study included 70 women, who were randomly selected to receive either an active or a sham treatment. Each woman received three treatments spaced four weeks apart. After treatment, follow-up visits occurred at 12- and 16-week time points. (After 12 weeks, women who received the sham treatment were switched to the active treatment.)
To assess pain, the researchers used cotton swabs to gently apply pressure at several vestibular locations. Women then indicated the level of pain they felt.
The participants completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), the Female Sexual Distress Score, and the O’Leary/Sant Voiding and Pain Indices. Researchers also obtained vulvoscopic photographs at the start of the study and again at the last follow-up visit.
Cotton swab test results showed that over time, women who received laser therapy felt less pain. However, women in the sham group had “minimal changes.”
Women in the laser therapy group also had greater improvements in sexual function and felt less distress by the end of the study compared to women in the sham group.
After reviewing the photographs, the scientists reported “reduced pallor, reduced erythema, and increased moisture” for women who had received laser therapy.
None of the women had serious adverse events.
“These data suggest that CO2 fractional laser therapy in women with vestibulodynia improves subjective measures of pain related to sexual activity, decreases pain symptoms and bother related to bladder voiding, and improves tissue health of the vulva, vestibule, urethral meatus and vagina,” the authors wrote.
The findings were presented in October 2019 at the Annual Fall Scientific Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA), held in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“What is provoked vestibulodynia (PVD)?”
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Goldstein, S., et al.
“Safety and Efficacy of CO2 Fractional Laser Therapy in Women with Vestibulodynia”
(Abstract. Published January 2020 – Volume 17, Issue 1, Supplement 1, Page S9)
Vulval Pain Society
“Vestibulodynia (formerly vulval vestibulitis)”