Introduction: All women who have given birth vaginally experience stretching of their vaginal tissue. Long-term physical and psychological consequences may occur, including loss of sensation and sexual dissatisfaction. One significant issue is the laxity of the vaginal introitus.
Aim: To evaluate safety and tolerability of nonsurgical radiofrequency (RF) thermal therapy for treatment of laxity of the vaginal introitus after vaginal delivery. We also explored the utility of self-report questionnaires in assessing subjective effectiveness of this device.
Methods: Pilot study to treat 24 women (25-44 years) once using reverse gradient RF energy (75-90 joules/cm(2) ), delivered through the vaginal mucosa. Post-treatment assessments were at 10 days, 1, 3, and 6 months.
Main outcome measures: Pelvic examinations and adverse event reports to assess safety. The author modified Female Sexual Function Index (mv-FSFI) and Female Sexual Distress Scale-Revised (FSDS-R), Vaginal Laxity and Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaires (designed for this study) to evaluate both safety and effectiveness, and the Global Response Assessment to assess treatment responses.
Results: No adverse events were reported; no topical anesthetics were required. Self-reported vaginal tightness improved in 67% of subjects at one month post-treatment; in 87% at 6 months (P<0.001). Mean sexual function scores improved: mv-FSFI total score before treatment was 27.6 ± 3.6, increasing to 32.0 ± 3.0 at 6 months (P < 0.001); FSDS-R score before treatment was 13.6 ± 8.7, declining to 4.3 ± 5.0 at month 6 post-treatment (P < 0.001). Twelve of 24 women who expressed diminished sexual satisfaction following their delivery; all reported sustained improvements on SSQ at 6 months after treatment (P = 0.002).
Conclusion: The RF treatment was well tolerated and showed an excellent 6-month safety profile in this pilot study. Responses to the questionnaires suggest subjective improvement in self-reported vaginal tightness, sexual function and decreased sexual distress. These findings warrant further study.
© 2010 International Society for Sexual Medicine.