GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — A woman's most intimate area changes with age. While vaginal health has traditionally been uncomfortable to talk about, having more women speak up about their common conditions means treatment is available.
"I dont think you realize whats not normal until it changes." said Becky Shanahan. The mother of two is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed when she was 44 years-old.
A double mastectomy and radiation took a toll on Shanahan, mentally. Side effects included anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and brain fog. Even more. she said the treatment took a physical toll on her body.
"One of the major side effects of this medication is low drive, dryness, atrophy, and so that was something that was huge," Shanahan explained. "I had a lot of urinary leakage as well."
"Vaginal health is so important," explained Julie Witte, women's health nurse practitioner with Priva MD. "It can effect your daily life if it`s not comfortable to you."
Priva MD is an organization based in Grand Haven made up of independent physicians specializing in both traditional and functional medicine, like acupuncture, IV and laser therapy.
Childbirth, hormonal imbalances, menopause, even cancer treatments impact a women's most intimate area. According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 40% of women experience sexual dysfunction in their lifetime, compared to just over 30% of men. But, thanks to more women reporting their issues, treatment options like hormone and creams are available.
Priva MD even offers the "O Shot" which is an injection using platelet rich plasma from the patients own blood, as well as laser therapy. Both treatments help in clearing away damaged tissue. Shanahan said the five minute procedure changed her life.
"No pain, no discomfort, quick, easy, couple days and you're back to life," Shanahan explained. "My husband knew I was coming, but didn't know I was having the treatment and he knew right away. So, it was fascinating. A lot of great results from it."
"It`s helping with tightening and toning everything and helping with that leakage from coughing and sneezing and jumping, and just bringing back the tissues after childbirth or loss of estrogen as we age, and breast cancer or different treatments like that," Witte added.
Shanahan wants women struggling with vaginal issues to know they don't have to live like that.
"I had a rough labor and I think it would have been great to hear about this a long time ago," she said. "Why suffer in silence."