The Efficacy of Vaginal Laser and Other Energy-based Treatments on Genital Symptoms in Postmenopausal Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2021 Mar;28(3):668-683. doi: 10.1016/j.jmig.2020.08.001. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


Objective: This systematic review examined energy-based treatments of the vagina for postmenopausal vaginal symptoms.

Data sources: We performed a systematic review from April 2017 (the end date of our previous review) to April 2020, searching Medline, Embase, and Scopus.

Methods of study selection: The inclusion criteria were all randomized studies, prospective studies with >10 cases, and retrospective studies with >20 cases published in English or French that assessed change in postmenopausal vaginal symptoms and/or sexual function in women after energy-based vaginal treatments. Meta-analyses were performed on randomized data.

Tabulation, integration, and results: Of the 989 results retrieved, 3 randomized studies, 16 prospective studies, and 7 retrospective studies were included in the review, representing data from 2678 participants. Pooled data from 3 randomized controlled trials show no difference between vaginal laser and topical hormonal treatments for change in vaginal symptoms (-0.14, 95% confidence interval -1.07 to 0.80) or sexual function scores (2.22, 95% confidence interval -0.56 to 5.00). Furthermore, no difference among vaginal laser, topical hormone, and lubricant was demonstrated in sexual function (p = .577). As in our previous review, non-randomized data support energy-based treatments in improving vaginal symptoms, sexual function, and clinician-reported outcomes. No severe adverse events were reported in the included studies. Significant heterogeneity of data arising from differing measures and reported outcomes continues to be an issue, with data remaining low quality, with high risk of bias, and no double-blind or placebo-controlled randomized trials yet reported, although 1 has now completed recruitment.

Conclusion: There are 3 randomized trials comparing energy-based systems with hormonal treatment, with no clinical difference in these 2 approaches. Although prospective data continue to show promising outcomes, without strong evidence from well-powered, double-blind placebo-controlled trials to determine the efficacy of treatment compared with placebo, the use of energy-based treatments should continue to be undertaken in research studies only, with high-quality studies essentially free from bias (International Prospective Register of Systematic Review registration number: 178346).

Keywords: Genitourinary symptoms of menopause; Laser; Menopause; Vaginal atrophy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Estrogens / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / methods*
  • Postmenopause*
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vaginal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Vaginal Diseases / pathology
  • Vaginal Diseases / surgery*


  • Estrogens