THE IDEAL PATIENT
Femilfit is similar to a laser resurfacing treatment for your face, where the outer layer is sloughed off and the new skin underneath is revealed. According to the manufacturer, Alma, it’s not just for incontinence, which is my primary issue. They say: “Millions of women suffer from vaginal irregularities and structural changes due to childbirth, age or a variety of other reasons…leading to a variety of symptoms including pain, itching and heaviness. [This] can lead to diminished vaginal health and vaginal conditions that may impact a woman’s lifestyle. The ideal patient would be any woman who is experiencing these issues.”
“The Femi will benefit most women,” says Dr. Jovanovic. “I had a patient who is really into Crossfit. But now she’s leaking every time she jumps rope. It became more noticeable because she was doing more physical fitness than she ever had done before, and the Femi was the perfect solution for her.”
Older women and cancer patients can really benefit, too. For women who are widowed or their husbands are sick or who just haven’t had sex in awhile, there is dryness and shrinking that comes with age that can make sex incredibly painful. The Femi has been proven to help with lubrication. And then there’s a cancer patient Dr. Jovanovic tells me about: “She had radiation for uterine cancer and it shrinks the tissues. Her vagina was dry and shrunken. When I tried to do an exam or put anything inside, it tore and was painful. I couldn’t prescribe her hormone creams because of her cancer. The Femi thickens the tissues and brings them back to life. After three sessions, the patient was able to have normal sex.”
And Dr. Jovanovic is even working on a study about using the treatment on post-partum breastfeeding women—since there are no chemicals, it is safe for breastfeeding women. And often, vaginal dryness is an effect of breastfeeding, which can make intercourse painful. The idea is to have a vaginal rehab or post-partum accelerated healing.
WHAT IT FEELS LIKE
Dr. Jovanovic’s nurse brings me back into the treatment room and has me undress and put on a paper robe, opening to the front. I lay down on an exam table, feet in stirrups, and put on a pair of eye covers while the machine is whirring next to me. Dr. Jovanovic inserts the probe and zaps the laser every centimeter or so, slowly moving it throughout my vagina. I have no pain at all and only know that it’s happening because the machine beeps as he zaps me.
Afterward, I put on a maxipad for any discharge, promise to stick nothing up my vagina for three days (no tampons! no sex! nothing!) and ride my bike home. (Yes, really!) It was as simple as that. The whole treatment took less than five minutes. (At a cost of about $1,000 per session plus $250 for the laser cover, this is not an inexpensive procedure, but it’s certainly not as expensive as surgery—and requires almost no recovery time.)
After my first treatment, I noticed a difference. I came back to my second treatment excited to tell Dr. Jovanovic about how I’d started running again. By my third treatment (most people recommend three treatments), I was running miles at a time with absolutely no leakage.
MY FINAL VERDICT
I’m still a work in progress. Unfortunately, I recently got a cold and it became very clear to me that while the running/jumping portion of the stress incontinence have been reduced, the sneezing/coughing is still an issue. I, dear reader, had to buy the weewee pads. Dr. Jovanovic thinks that a two more rounds of Femi might do the trick, or we can start investigating other options. “If your goal is just tightening and lubrication, then three sessions would be enough. But to treat a larger issue like severe incontinence takes more investigation. If we have to do surgery, you’ll heal better from having done the Femi first. To figure out what’s going on, we need to turn over every stone,” Dr. Jovanovic tells me.
So while Dr. Jovanovic and I have a little more work to do to completely resolve my issue, I know with a little more investigation, I will no longer be the mom who smells like pee.