Vaginal atrophy and dryness are painful conditions that affect the lives of up to 70% of postmenopausal women after breast cancer treatment.
That’s 20% more than women who have never undergone cancer treatment.
This is a big deal and can affect your health, your confidence, and your intimate relationships.
In this episode, you’ll hear from a Breast cancer survivor Kelly Jabbusch and Physician Assistant Lisellet Morin on all thing's vaginal health.
Kelly shares her story of how this condition impacted her life and how Lisellet opened her eyes to the variety of options that helped Kelly find relief.
These ladies share it all, from what you can do to what blocks you might need to overcome.
You don’t want to miss this episode.
In Control (Pelvic Floor Products)
Read Full Transcript Below:
Laura Lummer 0:00
This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have reengaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer. And I have a fabulous show for you today. This is a really important topic hardly ever talked about openly. I think I've may have mentioned another show. I think it was actually one that I did on sexuality. And I talked about how in my Facebook groups now and then someone will bring up something about sex. And it's always, most of the time, I would say it's, I feel guilty. I'm ashamed of myself, I feel horrible for my husband. You know, there's lots of guilt, lots of shame. But there's also the sorry if it offends anyone by me talking about this.
So there are clearly issues that we have around our own sexual health as, as females. And I hope this breaks down some of the barriers around that. You're going to hear from two amazing women today. And one who has and is a breast cancer survivor and has gone through treatment and suffered from vaginal dryness and atrophy. And another who is a physician assistant who works with oncology patients for these specific issues. And I'll tell you a little bit more about them in a minute.
So it's going to be a really great show. And I just want to thank you for downloading and being here and listening. And ask if you are a regular listener and you enjoy the show or a new listener and you get a lot out of the show, it would mean the world to me if you could leave a rating and review for the breast cancer recovery coach podcast.
So just that quick plug and let me tell you about the women you're going to hear from today. So we have Miss. Lisellet Morin. She is a physician's assistant at the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health in South Florida. She has worked in oncology for the last eight years. Now when Miss Morin decided to study to be a physician's assistant. She had to give up her job in order to attend school full time. And as a single mother with two young teenagers It was one of the most difficult decisions She said she's ever had to make. But she made that decision and she attended Miami Dade College's physician's assistant program. And I love Lisellet says that after the first week of PA school, not only did she know that she had made the correct decision, but that she had found her life's passion. And since her graduation in 2010. She's been fortunate enough to work with two excellent cardiology groups. And for the last seven years, she's worked in hematology and oncology. And now due to her experience with cancer patients, she has a new position with the Miami Cancer Institute. And it's geared toward health prevention and post-treatment wellness of oncology which is critical to the long-term post-treatment, wellness, and the optimal quality of life and survival and longevity for us.
So you're going to love her. She's wonderful.
And you're also going to hear from one of my wonderful ladies and empower remember a Revivify graduate Kelly Jabbusch. Kelly was diagnosed with stage II-A breast cancer in September of 2018 when she was only 43 years old. During her treatment, Kelly had a double mastectomy with auxiliary dissection and she went through eight rounds of dose-dense chemotherapy and 28 rounds of radiation and an exchange surgery to get silicone implants. She also had a hysterectomy and oophorectomy because she was hormone she had did have hormone-positive breast cancer.
So Kelly says that starting with chemo she began experiencing vaginal dryness and atrophy and Lisellet tried to educate her on the importance of vaginal health. But Kelly says at that time, she was just too tired to do anything about it. And she wasn't really worried because her husband had been deployed and he wasn't living with her in the home at that time. And she said quite frankly, she had an uptight Catholic upbringing, and she just didn't want to talk about it. Right, which sounds familiar. But anyway, finally, Kelly was suffering enough that she did take Lisellet advice and start paying attention to vaginal health and we're going to hear what Lisellet's advice is, was to Kelly what Kelly did and how much it has helped her.
And I will also give you a list of resources after this that have been provided to me by these amazing women and hopefully They'll help you if this is something you need help with. So without making you wait any longer, I want you to hear from Lisellet Morin and Kelly Jabbusch.
Ladies welcome to the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am really, really happy to have you here with me today talking about this very important and sensitive issue. So yeah, you're welcome. Thanks for taking the time to be here. So Kelly, why don't you start off and tell us what happened with you after your treatment, what you struggled with, and then how you came to find the guidance from Liselle. Okay.
So I got treatment in Miami at Miami Cancer Institute. And after I finished my treatment, they they transition you to the survivorship program, which is how I met Lisellet she was my nurse prac, no physician's assistant, that guided me through the kind of the aftermath. And one of the great things about I had hormone positive cancer, estrogen, estrogen and progesterone positive, HER2-negative. And one of the things that the doctors love about chemotherapy is that it shuts down your ovaries right away, right, so they stopped producing the estrogen. But of course, one of the terrible side effects of the chemotherapy is the vaginal dryness and the pain and discomfort. And so I was really experiencing a lot of discomfort there. But, you know, you're in the midst of trying to survive, and you're, you're the last thing you're thinking about, at least for me, the last thing I was thinking about was sexual sexual intercourse or, you know, anything sexual at all, I was trying to get through it. Um, and then Lisellet tell told me, you know, made some suggestions about things to do to basically protect the vagina and keep it going.
Laura Lummer 7:07
Isn't it funny how we still giggle like oh it's a vagina?
Yeah. Which involved dilators and some moisturizers, like rubbery, and vibrators and I was just like, hearing her but not really listening to what she was saying, cuz I was like, Yeah, I don't even care about that anymore. And my husband was in the military, so my husband was deployed at that time and was going to be gone for a long while anyway. So, um, it was a big mistake to not listen to her because it doesn't get better when the chemo wears off. And you know, you, your body gets readjust to a new normal. The Vagina does not get better without exercise.
Laura Lummer 7:58
Good point. So use it or lose it, right. It's like any another muscle in the body.
Right. They say that. And I heard that a bunch of times, and I just ignored it and didn't want to hear it. And so I mean, I was in a lot of discomfort. It was just it was uncomfortable showering, I would have like a stinging, burning sensation. It just, I didn't feel good. I'm even wearing like a workout clothes or working out even I would feel discomfort down there. Mm hmm. Because my vagina had just overnight I was 43 years old when I was diagnosed and overnight, my vagina aged like 20 years, right.
Like, six months after at Lisellet told me what to do. I went back to file the sheets all the paperwork she gave me and all the links and stuff. And I started taking action. Now I did get the Mona Lisa laser treatment. Okay, I did have three.
So what that is it's a laser that a lot of obgyns use it. And it's a laser treatment that goes inside they insert the laser inside your vagina, and it kind of swirls around and then it also hits the the labia area too. And it's used by women for urinary incontinence. And it's also used to treat vaginal dryness and atrophy. Yes, yeah.
Laura Lummer 9:33
And was it uncomfortable to do that procedure?
So it's not a walk in the park but they do put they do a numb you. Okay? They give you numbing so it actually doesn't. It's not comfortable but it's it's some. It's not terrible because, okay, don't really feel it. And it definitely works but you have to maintain what it does. So you know, you have kind of a week of what my gynecologist told me and it will wheat with no intercourse after the treatment. But then again, I wasn't having intercourse because my husband was away. So I had I went to using a vibrator, which I sent you the link on the vibrator that I've used, it's actually called a pelvic floor exercise or something. And it's called the intensity and it's like a medical-grade type of device, but it helped me a lot. And then I use the dilators, I bought a set of dilators. And Lisellet suggested to me that I insert the dilator in the morning, you know when I'm getting in the shower, so at least I've got it in there for like 10 or 15 minutes every day. Um, and then my, my gynecologist suggested I use reverie, which is like a hyaluronic acid sort of depository that is not, um, does not have any estrogen or hormones in it. And it works really well. Okay, so I use that, like, I use one of those like every three days.
Laura Lummer 11:18
Okay, so your routine is a combination of the reverie and the dilators. And the vibrator. Yeah, yeah. First, I want to hear from you, Lisellet. On what, just the background on this on how it works. And how it helps women in you know, it's so is it? Is it a chemotherapy thing? Or is it menopause? Is it because of the hormone blockers and chemotherapy putting us into menopause that this happens? It will happen to women without it,
it can happen to women without it just menopause itself can cause you to know, the very the dryness, and eventually the atrophy. But definitely, it's more from the chemotherapy that you go into quick menopause, or accelerated menopause, especially like Kelly, at least 10 years away from menopause. And she went into that she said 20 years.
Laura Lummer 12:14
Yeah, like overnight change.
Overnight change. And some women might not have the same effect. You know, at the beginning, they might not feel that discomfort and might be later after they're using, you know, the prescription medications that they take for five years. They start feeling the menopausal changes,
Laura Lummer 12:37
Like the aromatase inhibitors, tamoxifen and all that Yeah, okay. Yeah. Do you bring this up to women? Or do women bring it up to you.
We bring it up, we have a special, we bring it up with women and men. So not only, you know, the sexual dysfunction in for men, but you know, we ask them, you know, are you having this difficulty is an even like, Kelly, some women are older, and they're not active sexually. But you still have symptoms? And I tell them, you sure you're not having? You know, ask them Are you sure you're not having symptoms of the bad, gentle dryness?
Laura Lummer 13:15
Because that's an interesting thing. Kelly, you said that it bothered you when you would shower when you're working out that it's just painful often. And I have both friends who are menopausal without ever having had cancer. And then I see in my groups and work with women who have been through breast cancer treatment. And I asked you if you bring it up with women, because so many women, I feel like they're just so embarrassed to talk about this. And in fact, in we have a Facebook group called the breast cancer recovery group. And a while ago, I saw a woman post in there. Hey, I wanted to ask this question. And I hope I'm not offending anybody. But have you lost your libido? And I just thought that was so interesting, because it's such a common issue. And yet women have such a difficult time talking about it, or even to think that speaking about it would offend someone, you know, when it's just a biological function, right? So do you find Lisellet that, that it's difficult for women to follow through with this treatment? Did they feel uncomfortable using it? Can you talk about that a little bit?
Yes, yes, we have even women with gynecological cancers. And mostly the older women, some of the younger women, I think, like Kelly, eventually get to do the products and use, you know, the dilators or the vibrators, but it is hard for them. I guess it's just a stigma that they don't use it, you know, whatever. However they've been raised or you know, whatever background they have, they just think that it's not natural and not the right way. You tell them I tell them either you're active at least two times a week or you have to use it.
Laura Lummer 15:02
Is that what the rule of thumb would be to be sexually active twice a week?
Or at least twice.
Laura Lummer 15:07
Yeah. Yeah. So you kind of have to walk them through then it's like, you're not just doing this just for sexual health, but for overall health and comfort, right?
Laura Lummer 15:16
Yeah. And Kelly, you said something really interesting. In the email, we were exchanging emails and you said that you had a religious background that made you feel uncomfortable approaching this, right.
Yeah, I was raised Catholic, I went to Catholic school, my whole life went to an all-girl Catholic High School. And it just like vibrators of like, not using a vibrator or like, That's crazy. Um, but, you know, you really have to exercise that area, like a muscle. And I must say, the results are pretty immediate after using the vibrator and the dilators. And everything. Like, I wish I had that, that. That fast of results from exercising it really was like night and day. I mean, once I started getting in the habit of doing it, and I needed to do it a lot, in the beginning, to get back to some level of comfort. And then now I want.
Laura Lummer 16:21
is a lot
Like I was having to use the vibrator because it took me a while to even get it to the point where it would insert fully. Okay, so I had to use that vibrator, like every day and just be patient. You know, because the first couple of times, you know, you're not even you're just like, maybe you're only getting like the tip. The tip in. And you just have to kind of be patient with yourself. And just keep at it, you know, ever for the first couple of weeks, I just every night before I went to bed I I tried it and did it. And then, um, then I after about two weeks, I was feeling like a different different person. You know, every I just felt way more comfortable. Yeah, it was definitely I was in it was it was it was pain. I mean, I even went to one doctor about like, I don't know what's going on down here. I don't know if I have something wrong. And you know, they couldn't see that there was anything wrong. But um, you know that that wasn't a gynecologist that was a general doctor, but the gynecologist they definitely know. I mean, they, they're doing a pap smear, or they're gonna look in there and they're gonna be like, Oh, boy.
So, right, and just even just to comment, just even with the moisturizer, like she Kelly's using the rubbery, which is a suppository. And we have other over the counter moisturizers, which are just gels, that it's just that they don't use it. I guess the same thing is like, Oh, I'm putting something down there. It's not natural or whatever. They're they're thinking in their head. Mm hmm.
Yeah. And there's replants which was recommended to me. But for me, I'm replens is not as good as definitely not as good as the reverie. It doesn't really do much for me Actually, the replens. I mean, I have
Laura Lummer 18:20
What is that a vibrator, is that what is the replens?
No replens is a an insert, it's a moisturizer. It's an estrogen free moisturizer that you insert in your, in your vagina, and it's over the counter. You can get it you know, at CVS, it's cheaper than the reverie, but it's for me, it's not as effective. But and then, the well I should add, this is pretty important. In my course of treatment, I actually elected to have a prophylactic hysterectomy and removal. So, so my case that might have made my case a little bit more, you know, this the a little bit more required because I elected to have that that surgery.
Laura Lummer 19:02
And is that the case Lisellet does that make it more severe? If you have a hysterectomy?
Not necessarily? No, no, I mean, it depends on the person's, you know how your body reacts. We have some women that have just like Like I said before, like gynecological cancers and they've had surgery and but not not as much. I did have a previous patient like Kelly that did have severe the vaginal dryness and the pain with intercourse and just with chemotherapy.
Laura Lummer 19:15
Okay, and what's the difference between a vibrator and a dilator
Dilators are different sizes. Just imagine a vibrator without the vibration. Okay, the same. Bigger But no, no vibration. And they have different sizes where you to upgrade or grow.
Laura Lummer 19:55
So are they both? Are they both addressing different issues with the atrophy and the dryness or They kind of do the same thing?
The dilators mostly are usually only focusing on the atrophy, just like the opening that it does not close does not atrophy on the vagina, okay? The vibrators, I think do work on that a little bit but more on the whole thing just replenishing of the tissue and helping also incontinence or anything like that that the pelvic floor like pelvic floor therapy,
Laura Lummer 20:32
So they do help the vibrators help with incontinence as well.
Yes. I mean, there's different maybe not the one Kelly has, but there's different ones for only pelvic floor.
Laura Lummer 20:46
Okay. So if you're looking for one to help with incontinence, you would look for something that's pelvic that's a pelvic floor,
Laura Lummer 20:53
Yeah, the one that I got, I kind of got what I think is sort of like the mack daddy of vibrators, or I forget even the medical term that they use it, but it's
Laura Lummer 21:06
probably not mack daddy, the medic term you think?
But it's, it's called intensity, and it's by in control. Medical, they make it okay, it's, um, it's, um, it helps with incontinence and it helps with the pelvic floor. And it's got, you know, it, I feel like, I almost feel like it's sort of like a miniature type of like, the laser thing, isn't it? Kind of, you'll kind of get like a little stinging feeling and you'll, that's like, kind of working on the tissues in there. Okay, so, um, it wasn't cheap. I think it was like $135 to get it. But to me, it's, it's been it's been worth it, because it's helped. It's helped me out tremendously.
Laura Lummer 21:52
And does insurance cover these kinds of devices? If you have because it's a result of chemotherapy or medical treatment? Do they ever cover that?
Not to my knowledge.
Laura Lummer 22:04
no? Moisturizers nothing like that?
No, zero over the counter. Non prescription?
Yeah. reverie, my gynecologist gave me his code, his discount code to get that. So I think it's about $30 to $40 a month, you get and 10 depositories for that and you use it like every two or three days.
Laura Lummer 22:30
Oh, okay. Okay. So it's important to use this depositories as the moisturizers not just for intercourse, right. I think that's something we can speak to says, because people just think maybe you have to use it when you're having sex.
Not quiet exactly. Now, you need it. If you have the vaginal dryness, you need to use it.
Laura Lummer 22:48
And I will mention that you have to be your own advocate, because the gynecologists will even though you told me of estrogen positive cancer, they'll be like, oh, what are you using for estrogen? Oh, you can have a little bit of estrogen down there. And I told my gynecologist I said, I know my oncologist would strangle you for suggesting that. So sometimes gynecologist will tell you you can have stuff that's estrogen but if you have estrogen receptor cancer, you know, the oncologist usually say no on that stuff, or at least my oncologist saidno. Yeah, so that's why he was gonna give me an estrogen moisturizer. And then he switched it to the reverie because I told them that that won't work for you. So you have to be your own advocate. Still, you kind of you still have to watch out for yourself. Even though you're dealing with doctors, it doesn't mean that every doctor is well versed on what we went through, you know, cancer wise. So
Laura Lummer 23:51
Yeah. Can you speak to that a little Lisellet?
Yes. And like Kelly said, not all of them will or will not allow the estrogen for the vaginal area because you really don't absorb as much but we don't we don't know how much you absorb. You know, vaginaly system, system wise. But some do, some are okay with it, some are not. And most of the time the oncologist won't talk about it. It would be they hear it from somewhere else, either their gynecologist and then they will ask the oncologist, the oncologist does not outright.
Laura Lummer 24:32
Ask about it.
Yeah, yeah, talk about it.
I know my oncologist. And I know she's like pretty strict. I mean, when I was even talking to the nutritionist at MCI. She said, she gave me a list of foods that, you know, I could eat. And then I looked at it, and I saw some meat and stuff and she and I said, Oh, this is different from my doctor. And she said, Oh, you have Dr. Wang. She crossed out a bunch of other foods.
Laura Lummer 25:09
And not because of necessarily a hormone thing, but just overall diet that your oncologist prefers her people to be on.
Yeah, you know, I, when I didn't start with the oncologist that I ended up with, I moved and had a whole lot of moving pieces going on in my life at that time. But not a lot of doctors talk about overall health, including diet and exercise and, and just like your quality of life. And I think a lot of it sometimes is because a lot of doctors, they meet resistance from patients. And so they just, it's like the path of least resistance sometimes. But the specific doctor that I had, the first meeting I had with her was one, she wanted to know what my goals were after getting through this. And she also right away told me the type of cancer you have, she gave me a little presentation on what it was linked to. And I thought that was good, because you know, it gives you a whole outlook as far as what what you can do to reduce your risk of you know, it coming back.
Laura Lummer 26:17
Yeah. So Lisellet, what advice could you give? Or would you say to women for this, in this situation when we go through breast cancer treatment, and our oncologist isn't going to bring it up? And even as Kelly said, overall health, let alone talk about vaginal health, which is can be such a sensitive issue. And how do you handle that? or What advice would you give to women? And also, how do you? What advice could we give them to speak to their romantic partners with or the person they're sleeping with about what they're doing for this therapy?
Unfortunately, yes, the oncologist do not even mention any side effects related to sexual function. I've had other other women that come, you know, I've seen and say, why didn't they tell me this? Why didn't they warn me ahead of time? Mm hmm. You know, and you even get, some marriages really get dissolved because of it, the patient doesn't know how to handle it. And then the husband, you know, doesn't know how to handle the patient hadn't been able to handle what's going on. And the doctors do not address it. You like Kelly said, you have to be your own advocate. In any medical situation, you have to ask questions, you have to make sure if you and you can't I feel like you can't believe the doctors 100% it. If you're still having symptoms, if you're still having an issue, and they tell you Oh, no, it's okay. I'll go away. Go somewhere else? Unfortunately, unfortunately, we do have some doctors like that. That just tell you, okay, that's a side effect, you know, deal with it? Mm hmm.
Laura Lummer 28:10
Are there organizations or associations or websites or things like that for people who are dealing with sexual dysfunction as a part of cancer treatment? Or do we can you find things like that on? I don't know, breastcancer.org? Or any, any place where they can go to to get information or advice?
There should be I'm not sure. If those sites have, you know, in particular about any sexual dysfunction? But they should.
Laura Lummer 28:40
I know that when I was going through treatment that I've seen, they have social workers and a lot of the oncology offices, is this something that a social worker might be informed about? If you bring up and say, you know, we're having difficulty in a marriage or in a relationship as a result of, of sexual dysfunction? Or the vaginal atrophy? Can they help with that?
They could, but I don't think the patient brings that up to them.
Laura Lummer 29:08
It's a lot of shame and fear around that whole subject. huh.
Right. If the social worker does address the patient for any reason, we do have a, you know, set of forms that when the patient fills out when they go to the office, you know, depending on a stress level that, you know, the social worker will get, you know, a referral, this patient has this distress level, and they will reach out to the patient. But I don't think that the patient's open up that much to the social worker
Laura Lummer 29:43
and it's not something I remember having to go in and fill out the list of questions every time you'd go in for treatment, but there's no question on there. It's like, Are you experiencing vaginal atrophy or vaginal pain or anything like that?
I don't think with oncology only, only in our department. Yeah,
Laura Lummer 30:01
Do you guys asked that question in your department?
Well, yes about libido and vaginal dryness and sexual dysfunction.
Laura Lummer 30:08
Okay, so obviously libido is going to be affected if you're having vaginal pain during sex because then you're not looking forward to it. But even if you don't have the atrophy, or vaginal pain, can libido still be affected as a result of treatment?
Yes, yes, it does get affected.
Laura Lummer 30:27
And what what is it that has that effect? You know?
It's mostly the chemo
Laura Lummer 30:33
Yes, and and younger women that are going into menopause.
Laura Lummer 30:38
Okay, so it's just the overall situation of menopause.
Yes. And an older woman, it just might be, I think also, a more deeper menopause in the hormone levels. Mm hmm. That they go..
Laura Lummer 30:51
Is there something that can be done about that? Like, is it intertwined? If you work on the vaginal health? Does that improve libido? Is it or is it two separate completely separate things that need treating differently?
Both it can, it can improve if you improve the vaginal discomfort and the vaginal issues? Sometimes it's not sometimes it's completely separate? And I think also depends on the relationship the patient has with their significant other. Mm hmm.
Laura Lummer 31:19
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, right? It's a lot of that is in our mind when it comes to the relationship as well. Mm hmm. Yeah. But is there treatment, let's say somebody, so I've read in fact, it was just yesterday, I was reading something on a Facebook group. And it was a woman saying, I feel like there's knives when I have sex with my husband, so I don't want to do it. And I feel so guilty every night I feel guilty. And is there something specific that can be targeted just towards libido? Or is that just strictly hormone in any guy to figure it out? Or is there any kind of treatment for it?
We do, the treatment that we give, and we know that it works is actually a medication called Wellbutrin. Mm hmm. It is an antidepressant medication, but it does improve in the majority of women improve the libido.
Laura Lummer 32:10
I'm sorry. But mostly, I'm sorry that most of the time they don't want to prescription.
Laura Lummer 32:17
They I mean, they don't want to take new medications, new prescriptions.
Laura Lummer 32:22
Interesting, because they're just kind of done because of the cancer treatment. They're just like, I'm just done. I don't want to take anything else?
Laura Lummer 32:29
Yeah. That's really interesting. And so with Kelly, you said you started using the dilators, the vibrators the moisturizers after the Mona Lisa treatment?
Laura Lummer 32:40
And so your
Mona Lisa treatment would be, you know, just like this magic bullet that would fix everything. But that's not the case. You still have to, it definitely helps. And I in my case, I actually felt that the Mona Lisa treatment actually helped my libido a little bit too. Okay. But, um, it's not a magic bullet, you still have to use the other. You know, the vibrators are, like I said, My husband was deployed and still is. So I have to do that. I wasn't having sex. If you're there with your partner. You might not have to use the vibrators and dialers because you would be having sex, so maybe sustain your Mona Lisa treatment. But generally, they recommend you do three Mona Lisa treatments in the first year.
Laura Lummer 33:27
And then after that, you know, they sell packages and stuff like that for them. And then after that, that the gynecologist kind of looks and usually you only need like one treatment. A year after that.
Laura Lummer 33:43
Laura Lummer 33:46
And is that the case even if you're doing the upkeep, and you're using the vibrators or you're having intercourse regular, you still need to have the Mona Lisa treatments.
I think that's what they recommend. My doctor said, we'll just look at and see where you're at, you know, every year need another treatment? He said some people never need a new again, but generally you need a touch up every year.
Laura Lummer 34:12
Um, you know, I did want to add that there are pelvic floor physical therapists out there that I'm sure a gynecologist could refer one to because it's not just us cancer patients and menopausal women that have issues down there. There's victims of rape or sexual assault, that also have issues with intercourse and any types of things, any types of insertion. So there are physical therapists that help obviously people in my situation. I have not been to one but I know that there are our pelvic floor physical therapists that
Laura Lummer 34:57
that is so interesting.
specialize in yeah,
Laura Lummer 35:00
okay. I never have heard of that. It's awesome to know that exist. Yeah,
a lot of the clients of those therapists are, like I said, they're women in my situation menopausal women, but victims of sexual violence are are also patients up there.
Laura Lummer 35:22
See, who knew there were so many options available or that there was so much stuff we could do to maintain vaginal health? And this was really fascinating. Yeah,
yeah. Just the point with the Mona Lisa, unfortunately, what some doctors don't request insurance coverage for that, or they say it's not covered and you're out of pocket.
Laura Lummer 35:46
But you can request insurance coverage for it?
Some doctors do. I don't think
I had to pay out of pocket for it, so.
Laura Lummer 35:57
But it's something we could check with our insurance provider to see if they if they cover it. Because in that situation, right, it is kind of a medical. I mean, it's a medical procedure, because you're you have pain, right? And you have a change in your body.
I know my doctor was joking about it, because he said, you know, men can get Viagra covered.
Laura Lummer 36:19
What's that Taylor Swift song, if I were a man, there's just another thing to add to it. If I were a man vaginal Health would be covered.
Right? Um, you know, there's so many things out there. I mentioned that intimaterose.com, which is where I got my vibe, vibe, my not my vibrators, the dilators. They're looking dilators. But they have little, miniature little, little tiny keigo weights. I mean, there's just so much stuff it to me being an uptight, ignorant person about vaginal health. When I started going down and exploring these different sites and everything I found, there's just a whole world out there of tools and things that that you can use to feel better.
Laura Lummer 37:09
The Secret World that no one talks about? It's like, how are these businesses out there? We never hear about these tools.
Oh, thank God, because I'm going to use some of the sites. I didn't know some of those sites either. But I'm gonna be able to pass it on to other women.
Yeah, there's a need for this stuff. And thank God for the internet. And people out there that that do this. In fact, I think the lady who's on that website, or who put that website together, she's a pelvic floor physical therapist and created all these resources and tools. So
Laura Lummer 37:45
Well, it's such an important topic. And and this thing, because it's so not talked about, and it's so common, you know, and I'll never forget, I was I think it was just you and I were coaching and Kelly's like, I have to share something with you. I'm so happy. And she started telling me about all the advice that you'd given her from vaginal health. And she's like, this is what I've been doing, this is what I've been using. And I'm, for the first time feeling comfortable, and my vagina feels better. And like, this is awesome, we need to talk about this. And she's like, we do need to talk about it, we need to talk. She's like, I'll go on a podcast and talk about vaginas anytime
you know like, when you're when it's really important. And when you're going through treatment or getting done with treatment. I mean, at least in my case, the last thing I wanted to think about was sex or anything, you know, you just feel horrible, you don't look great, and you just want to, I don't know, live another day, but not really do much other than in my case, just like sit in front of the TV and just veg out. So, um, so yeah, I mean, I think everybody comes to it at their own, at their own pace when they're ready to tackle that issue. Like I said, it took me a while to come around to that. But I was glad that Lisellet had given me the information and talked to me about it. And I wish I heeded her advice sooner than I did. But at least I had the information and when I was ready, I did go back to it and and use it and take action. And I just you know, I feel like I feel like a totally different person. Like when I use that vibrator The next day, I'm like, man, I feel great.
Laura Lummer 39:29
I love it. I love it. I love they're bringing it out into the open and that we can say you know, this is a part of health and wellness part of a recovery. And as we know something that women struggle so much with is feeling normal or getting back to life, you know, afterwards. And it has such a big impact on our sexual health, our romantic interactions that it can cause a lot of well, like you were saying that it can cause breaks up break up in marriages and I see people posting about things Like that, that my marriage is on the rocks. And also just feeling good about yourself, right?
Laura Lummer 40:07
And so much of our femininity feels like it gets taken away from us and breast cancer treatment. And that's just another aspect. Do you find Lisellet when when people follow this advice? Do you have a lot of women that come back to you? And they're like, Oh my God, thank you so much like Kelly,
50/50. I mean, because some of them do not do it. Um, or the majority do not are not proactive. It is it is like exercise and diet, you have to work at it. Mm hmm. And unfortunately, some of them they start they might do just a vaginal moisturizers. They're not proactive as Kelly was she went all out and when she's like, I'm all in on this vibrators and as we speak, we tell them about the Mona Lisa also, but unfortunately, like I said, some gynecologists, you know, only charge charge only cash where that they don't even bother with the insurance companies to try to get that covered.
Laura Lummer 41:06
And as a gynecologist that does the Mona Lisa procedure.
That's where you go.
Yeah, gynecologists have it. But also, I know one of your other podcasts, you've had the the contact from the Med Spa. And I'm like, she does it there too. So I think some med spas do it. And I know, I know. I know. I look for gynecologist that have that machine in there in there. When I was like, let me make sure that you've got this.
Laura Lummer 41:33
Got to be close to a gynecologist. The Mona Lisa machine.
The gynecological oncologist that did my surgery. My hysterectomy. He had it at his office. So yeah.
Laura Lummer 41:46
Is this as big of a problem in women with triple negative breast cancer?
Not as much actually.
Laura Lummer 41:53
I think it's much less.
Laura Lummer 41:57
Or we they don't treat them with the same kind of hormone therapy? Correct. They don't get hormone therapy treatment. Is that with hormone positive get treated? Is that correct? Yeah. Right. Interesting.
Yeah. And you know, even even if I never, if I was just going through menopause, and I went to my, my Doc, my gynecologist, he would he would still be asking what I was using for estrogen, right? You know, because a lot of women take that hormone replacement therapy for a couple years. Obviously, that's a no no, for anybody with estrogen, positive breast cancer. So many women who never had cancer they're going to go through, they're going to take that maybe at some point if their doctor prescribes it.
So. So we don't have that, you know, we don't have that option. And really, the only option for someone like me is the laser or, you know, and or the exercises that that I'm doing. That's, that's pretty much it. But you know, all I can say is it works, when you do it, it's really makes a huge difference.
Laura Lummer 43:01
Well I think that's so important that you brought up the maintenance program, because I would never have thought that and I've heard of the Mona Lisa before as well. And I've heard women ask about it. But I also would have thought it's a one and done. Like you just go get it done. And that's it. And then you get your results from that. But I wouldn't realize that you had that it's a process, you need to keep repeating. And that you need to be using things in between in order to keep your vaginal health up to par.
And someday there might be a magic bullet for us, like, you know, the Mona Lisa, maybe will last forever. But until then, um, you know, at least there's, there's doing the vibrators and the dilators. But, and I and I do say for any women out there, like it wasn't just right away, I was able to function with that. It took work and I had to, I had to go easy on myself and just calm down and just be like, you know what, I can't get it in right now. So just but let me just keep at it little by little night after night. And you know, after, after one or two weeks, I was feeling accomplished, like, Okay, I'm coming back and coming back to life.
Laura Lummer 44:13
That's a great, I love that. And I hope that that helps women think about it in different light, so they don't feel uncomfortable, you know, getting to know their own body and understand that it's a part of overall health. And looking at it like that, like I know how dedicated you are and doing things to support your health, Kelly. And so I think it's it's important for women to look at it from that aspect, like this is my health and health is there's so many different aspects to it. You know, and this is definitely an important one.
Yeah, the one thing I actually have a question for Lisellet. And, you know, I make the comment all the time that we still have to live in the environment that we are in, because there's a lot of bad stuff in the environment that i think you know, impacts cancer, like lubricants and things like that. So a lot of the lubricants will have ingredients in them that can act that can be parabens and act as estrogens when the body's absorbs them. Do you have any that you recommend that do not, that are safe? Or safer than, you know, like the KY and that kind of stuff?
Yeah, those are ky and replens has one also that is just the water base. moisture. lubricants. Okay. And the rubbery company does not have a lubricant.
Yeah, it'd be great if they had one.
Laura Lummer 45:37
What's the difference from the lubricant to a moisturizer?
So the lubricant is used for sexual activity. During activity, then moisturizer is the treatment
Laura Lummer 45:48
is the treat and would a moisturizer serve as a lubricant
It can, but it can help a little bit. But a lubricant
Laura Lummer 45:55
cannot serve as a moisturizer?
Laura Lummer 45:58
Okay. So for people who might think, well, I have KY jelly or I have a lubricant. And I use that on a daily basis or something. It wouldn't be the same effect as moisturizer.
Correct, Yeah, no.
Laura Lummer 46:09
Good to know. Yeah. Hopefully, we have a lot of healthier vaginas out there after this show. Well, thank you so much for making the time to be here.
Thank you for doing this podcast, I hope, I think a lot of women will benefit from it. You know.
Laura Lummer 46:24
I think so too.
We don't talk that much about but you definitely want to be comfortable. Even if you're, you're not having sex and don't intend to ever have sex again. You want to feel good. You want to be able to exercise and not have that, you know, irritating feeling in an area.
Laura Lummer 46:45
Yeah. 100% Absolutely. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. And it's because that's what it's about when it comes down to it's about us and our personal health. Right? You're not doing it just for someone else. You're doing it for yourself, to feel great about yourself, and to have comfort, so you're not experiencing physical discomfort.
Alright, ladies, well, thank you so much for being here. And I know this is really going to benefit a lot of women. So I really appreciate all your information and your time.
Laura Lummer 47:12
Yeah. All right, that was a lot of great information. And your biggest question is probably, where do I find the websites? Where do I find the products and so make sure and include the links to all this in the show notes for this episode, which you can find at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/112.
So I really hope you got a lot out of this show. If it's something that you suffer with vaginal atrophy, dryness, that and the pain from it, and the mental anguish and the emotional anguish from it. I really, really hope you got some useful information from this show. And something that will help you out to be able to have a healthier body and a healthier, happier life. So thanks again for tuning in. And I will look forward to talking with you again next week. Until then, be good to yourself and expect other people to be good to you as well.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai