When Sex Hurts—And What You Can Do About It

woman upset on couch

Veronica had a great marriage, a wonderful husband, and an active sex life for much of her adult life. Things changed, however, when she underwent a hysterectomy.


Suddenly, Veronica would cringe at any pelvic exam. Sex hurt.


"Here I was in agony every single time. My husband would look at me, and I'd be like, ‘No!' There's nothing worse than when you're trying to be amorous, and someone is wincing in pain. The poor guy was ok with it, but I felt a little bit like I was letting him down," she says.

Veronica had her uterus and ovaries removed due to fibroids and endometriosis-conditions that she had had all of her life. The hysterectomy catapulted her into immediate menopause at age 45, and she says she felt at a loss for what to do.

In addition to hot flashes and mental fogginess, vaginal dryness is a common side effect of menopause-and one that few women readily discuss. That dryness can lead to vaginal pain, itchiness, and inflammation. And those symptoms can add up to painful sex.

"I thought, ‘Where do I go from here?'" Veronica says. "There were creams on the market, but nothing felt natural, and hormones were frowned upon because of [potential] detrimental side effects," she says. "I was afraid to take anything."

For 10 years, Veronica dealt with the pain until Raby Institute Founder Theri Griego Raby, MD, ABHM, told her about a new FDA-approved laser therapy available at the Raby Institute. The MonaLisa Touch uses CO2 laser energy to promote vaginal wall health by stimulating collagen.

"All of the sudden, I started seeing it everywhere. It started to become more prevalent. I even saw it in Vogue and Bazaar. I'd seen it online, too," Veronica says.

Dr. Raby told Veronica that patients typically undergo three, 10-minute sessions with the MonaLisa Touch. They experience little pain, no down time, and start to notice changes within weeks.

If the treatment worked, Veronica thought, it could change her life. "Some part of us feels that we have to accept these things, that this is part of aging," she says.

Dr. Raby disagrees with that sentiment. "'This is because of my age,' should not be a sentence in any woman's vocabulary."

After talking through her questions with Dr. Raby, Veronica decided to try the MonaLisa Touch. She says she only felt nervous "for about two minutes. I have a lot of faith in Dr. Raby and in the team there. They're a very nurturing group and extremely professional."

Veronica adds that there was one moment when she first saw the MonaLisa Touch and thought, "What am I getting myself into?" However, Integrative Gynecologist Katherine A. Thurer, MD, FACOG, ABHM, explained what Veronica would feel (a slight pressure and vibration, similar to a standard pelvic exam) and how long the process would take (less than 10 minutes).


Dr. Thurer also offered perspective on the treatment. "When we talk about integrative medicine, we refer to the health of the mind, body, and spirit," she said. "The emotional closeness that is obtained through intimacy is vital to the health of the spirit. When you cannot engage in this intimacy, your overall wellness suffers."


By the second treatment six weeks after the first, Veronica was already seeing "amazing results."


She has since undergone her third treatment and says, "Honestly, it's a little bit of a miracle. It's almost like you can turn back the clock. My life is night and day from just two months ago."


Her husband noticed a difference too. "He says it's amazing, but more than anything, he knows that I'm not in pain. For him, that is the big game-changer," Veronica says.


A believer in looking at her health as a journey, Veronica says that Dr. Raby has opened her eyes to new treatments and technologies.


For women who are timid or turned off by the MonaLisa Touch, Veronica encourages them to try it. "It's easy to get complacent," she says, "but Dr. Raby and her team have vetted these new technologies and made them available to patients. Dr. Raby wants to make a better life for her patients."


Veronica admits that prior to talking with Dr. Raby, she really didn't want to accept what was happening with her own vaginal health. Aging has made Veronica better in many ways, but she now realizes that she can't leave her health behind.


"Dr. Raby took something off my shoulders. She's a healer," Veronica says, adding, "We're all aging beautifully these days as women, and we're demanding to not shut off certain parts of our life as we get older. Our moms may have accepted things as they aged, but we aren't."

"Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded."
- Goethe