Monday, July 7, 2008

This Actually Sounds Like a Good Thing To Me (Mostly)

A gyno in NYC (of course) came up with the idea for a new kind of spa--one for the vagina. At first blush, this may seem fad-like and part of a trend to make women conform to one standard of beauty. As those of us with pelvic floor issues know, however, this type of thing could actually start a new paradigm about how pelvic issues are treated. Believe me, that type of shift is needed.

The visit starts off with a checkup:

At the spa, the signature treatment will be a $150 gynecological exam — in which a client contracts her pelvic muscles around Dr. Romanzi’s fingers — to determine by feel whether muscle tone is weak, moderate or strong.
And the treatment goes on:

Dr. Romanzi likes to call the vaginal workouts she prescribes “personal training.” Clients could also use an in-office electrostimulation machine to improve pelvic muscle tone or buy a device for home use. Dr. Romanzi said that such treatments are intended to improve bladder control; she said pelvic training may also lead to more intense orgasms.
This sounds a lot like my physical therapy to me.

I disagree with this statement wholeheartedly:
The advent of the pelvic spa, however, takes body fixation to a new level, furthering the idea that there is no female body part that cannot be tightened, plumped, trimmed or pruned.
And instead I agree with the doctor:

Dr. Romanzi said her goal was to teach women how to properly perform Kegel exercises, intended to strengthen the sling-shaped muscle that supports the bladder, vagina and rectum. Gynecologists sometimes suggest such pelvic physiotherapy for minor vaginal laxity after childbirth or for mild urinary incontinence.

But Dr. Romanzi believes all women might benefit from such exercises.

How true!

I believe the main focus of the project is diminished with this part, however:

The spa will also offer cosmetic laser treatments intended to tighten the skin of the vulva in post-menopausal women.

“The outer layer can become almost scrotal, very wrinkly and lax,” Dr. Romanzi said.

She treats pelvic skin using a combined laser and radio frequency device that is designed for facial skin and has not been studied for safety and efficacy when used on the vulva, she said. But she said the laser does not penetrate deeply enough to affect internal organs like ovaries.

See, that's where the line should be drawn--all women should have a pelvic health plan, but changes for cosmetic purposes only should be discouraged.

So I guess it's not a good thing in its entirety. As many things go, there are good parts and bad parts, and we have to wait and see whether the good outweighs the bad. But I'll welcome the advent of new thinking and hope that it leads to a more open and welcoming environment for women going through pelvic floor issues.