There are thousands of products and procedures marketing to women to help them hold on to youth as long as they can. Vaginal rejuvenation falls into that category with promises of tightening the vagina, stopping incontinence, eliminating vaginal dryness, and more.
"Childbirth and age can change a woman's vagina," says Jo Hill, MD, an urogynecologist at University of Utah Health. "And there are some women who want to try to reverse those changes."
What is vaginal rejuvenation?
"The term vaginal rejuvenation covers essentially anything that changes or alters the vaginal anatomy," Hill says. "That includes both internal and external structures."
There isn't a single vaginal rejuvenation procedure. There are creams and injections that are meant to improve the quality of orgasm. There are also surgeries or laser treatments that promise to tighten the muscles of the vagina or improve its look.
Why would someone choose vaginal rejuvenation?
The majority of women are seeking vaginal rejuvenation for cosmetic reasons. As with any cosmetic surgery it is important for the patient to consider why they want the surgery before moving forward with it. Improving self-confidence usually plays a large part in the decision.
"It's important that the patient is inquiring about these procedures for herself, and not because of the wishes of a partner or pressure from society," Hill says.
It's also important that any woman looking into vaginal rejuvenation to have realistic expectations of the outcomes. No cosmetic procedure is going to restore any part of your body to the way it was when you were 18. Also, keep in mind that the vagina has wide variety of "normal anatomy."
"What is ideal to you is likely not ideal to someone else, and what one culture considers beautiful, another may not," Hill says.
How to take the first step
When choosing a method and a provider for vaginal rejuvenation, do your homework. Remember, advertising is not going to paint an accurate picture. In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration underscored this fact when they issued a warning about vaginal rejuvenation treatments using lasers or ultrasound.
"You are entrusting a provider with a very sensitive and complicated part of your anatomy," says Hill. "If something goes wrong, you could wind up disfigured or with constant pain for the rest of your life. At University of Utah Health, we recommend against use of vaginal lasers/devices for vaginal rejuvenation as limited research exists and the safety data is lacking."
It's a natural urge to want to turn back the clock and counteract the signs of aging. However, it's important that in trying to do so, a woman doesn't put her mental or physical health at risk. Hill recommends talking to your gynecologist before seeking out a cosmetic procedure and asking the right questions as they may suggest other options you haven't considered.
"However, the majority of woman just need reassurance that their vagina is normal,” Hill says.