For more than twenty years the pink ribbon has been used to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer, but for me, the ubiquity of the symbol is a reminder of cancer in any form—breast, colon, leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma, cervical, thyroid, uterine, etc.—as well as a reminder of how much it sucks.

One in three women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, of which sixty-four percent will experience the disease in a way that directly affects sexual organs. It’s no wonder that sexual dysfunction is so common among cancer survivors. A survey by the Lance Armstrong Foundation found that forty-three percent of women had problems with sexual function following cancer treatment. Twenty-nine percent reported “a lot” of functional impairment. Sadly, of the entire group, only thirteen percent discussed their sexual dysfunction with their healthcare provider.

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Chapter Photos

Small vaginal opening with tears in the tissue
Small vaginal opening with tears in the tissue
Small vaginal opening with tears in the tissue
Small vaginal opening with tears in the tissue

This is a 42 year old breast cancer patient. The physical changes to sexual organs caused by chemotherapy, radiation, and the inability to be on estrogen therapy create the perfect trifecta of vaginal shut down. The small vaginal opening is caused by having infrequent intercourse, dryness due to lack of estrogen and inability to use estrogen.

Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal Atrophy

Vulvo-vaginal Atrophy is long term side effect of breast cancer on cancer thrivers.
The physical changes to sexual organs caused by chemotherapy, radiation, and the inability to be on estrogen therapy create the perfect trifecta of vaginal shut down. Pale tissue is seen with a small vaginal opening.

Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal Atrophy
Vaginal Atrophy

And there are treatment options for dryness and a small vaginal opening. Among treatment options include vaginal
dilators, lubricants, topical lidocaine and estrogen therapy (ifallowable), non-hormonal alternatives such as Osphena, the Mona Lisa Touch Laser, extra virgin coconut oil, and cannabis cream.

Mona Lisa Touch Laser (MLTL) treatment for vaginal atrophy
Mona Lisa Touch Laser (MLTL) treatment for vaginal atrophy
Mona Lisa Touch Laser (MLTL) treatment for vaginal atrophy
Mona Lisa Touch Laser (MLTL) treatment for vaginal atrophy

Patient in Photo 3 was treated with the MLTL-first of three painless, in-office 4 minute treatments. The inside vagina was treated with the laser and then the outer vagina was treated to remove the dead layer of skin stimulating collagen production and blood flow.

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