A laser treatment offered to menopausal women is a sham or fake therapy, researchers say. The treatment is said to be risky and does not rejuvenate the vagina as it claims.
Laser Treatment Has No Benefits
The researchers tested the laser treatment to check if it might ease vaginal dryness and painful sex connected to menopause. The National Health Service of NHS stated that the therapy should only be used for research.
Some private clinics in the United Kingdom and the United States still continue to offer it.
The laser treatment, also called laser rejuvenation, involves a probe inserted into the vagina to heat and change the surrounding tissue.
Clinics claim that laser treatment can begin the body's healing process by injuring the tissue and that it can increase natural lubrication and restore sexual gratification, according to BBC.
The treatment can be completed within an hour, but it is not risk-free. The US regulator has stated that it is concerned that women will be harmed by the procedure.
Some women who have had the treatment said they experienced burns and scarring, according to MedPage.
The research is posted in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It is one of the largest studies to criticize the therapy and point out its lack of evidence.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence or NICE has been calling for this type of work to know if the therapy is safe and can be recommended for wider use.
The researchers gathered 85 women to receive either a placebo procedure, where the probe was inserted, but the needed dose of the energy is not delivered or the laser treatment.
No serious side-effects were recorded, but during the follow-up after a year, there was no difference between the two groups in terms of symptom improvement.
Another editorial in JAMA likened the laser therapy to the recent vaginal-mesh scare when some women were harmed by a procedure that was halted due to safety concerns.
The research authors of Dr. Marisa Adelman and Dr. Ingrid Nygaard said the widespread clinical use of vaginal laser therapy, followed by reports of adverse events and US Food and Drug Administration or FDA warnings, is alarming.
The researchers said that after a rush to market vaginal mesh products for the management of pelvic organ prolapse before the completion of rigorous randomized trials, the products are no longer available in the US.
Although marketing before the availability of evidence shows efficacy and safety may be linked with short-term profits for clinics, this approach closes any window of opportunity to learn what women benefit from the treatment, as well as those at increased risk for harm.
Laser treatments treat numerous conditions that use a beam of light on the affected area. In 2018, it was reported that Thailand offered laser treatments to men who wanted their private area whitened.
British Menopause Society spokesman Tim Hillard, a consultant gynecologist, said that this is the study they are waiting for. It is one of the biggest randomized trials and is not industry-funded.
Hillard added that the research proves that it is important that doctors only offer this therapy in clinical trials to get more evidence. He also said that new treatments for menopause symptoms were needed and worth researching.
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Written by Sophie Webster