Within two hours of having given birth to my fifth child, feeling stunned and exhausted, a midwife popped her head around the curtains surrounding my bed to remind me perkily that I really should start working on my pelvic floor.
At that point I barely knew I still had a pelvic floor, let alone felt able to exercise it.
But her words returned to me a few days later, when I realised it was time to start those special exercises, called Kegels, which prevent stress incontinence and yes, increase sexual pleasure. Because I cannot pretend that having not simply one or two, but five children, hasn’t changed my body. And just as I’d love the skin on my face to look and feel like it did when I was 19, I’d also love the inside of my body to feel like it did before the ravages of carrying and giving birth.
It might sound odd, but the solution for one could now also provide the solution for the other.
A brave mother, 42, tried new sex enhancing collagen treatment at Revere Clinic with pleasing results that lasted more than 9 months (file image)
Radiofrequency treatments that deliver deep thermal heat into the skin to boost production of collagen, the protein that makes skin bouncy and youthful, have long been used to rejuvenate the face. But it’s not just the face that contains collagen.
The protein is found everywhere in the body — yes, even there — and according to cosmetic physician Dr Sabika Karim of the Revere Clinic, a radiofrequency treatment called the Geneveve can have the same plumping and tightening effects on the most intimate parts of your body.
It’s no secret, of course, that with each pregnancy and experience of childbirth, a woman’s intimate muscle tone decreases. I have, in fact, always been pretty good with my Kegels, but, not to put too fine a point on it, would prefer not to sneeze while using a trampoline.
Interestingly, the Geneveve not only appeals to women after childbirth, but is also popular with women during the menopause, when natural collagen production in the body dramatically decreases as part of the ageing process.
Although it’s only been introduced to the UK within the past year, the treatment is proving impressive following extensive trials in the U.S., Japan, Canada and Europe. The results showed significant improvement in sensation and satisfaction, and an increase in libido.
‘A lot of women have told me about how the treatment has increased their general enjoyment of sex, as well as their husband’s,’ says Dr Karim, although she admits ‘it’s possible there’s a psychological element at play.’
Recently published research suggests sex can help to keep the mind sharp whilst ageing. Collagen improves blood flow to enhance nerve endings and as a result sensation (file image)
We all know that feeling satisfied with sex can lead to increased desire, which is why the treatment appeals to women in midlife, since post-childbirth and during the menopause is a time when, for various reasons, including lack of enjoyment, libido can take a hammering.
I’m open about enjoying my sex life with my husband, and, as far as I’m concerned, anything non-invasive that might increase that enjoyment is a good thing.
Recently published research suggests regular sex isn’t just fun, but is also a way of keeping the mind sharp as we age.
Academics at the University of Coventry and Oxford found a link between sexual activity and the frequency of the secretion of neuro-hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin which transmit feelgood signals to the brain.
It’s also clear that intimate treatments are fast becoming the new frontier of cosmetic care. Vaginoplasty has been around for a long time, but as well as being traumatic, it doesn’t promise to do anything more than tighten, rather than increase, sensation, which is where laser surgery has the upper hand.
Patients of the newly available collagen procedure have experienced pleasing results for up to a year after the treatment (file image)
I was fascinated by the idea that collagen could be boosted in my body to increase sexual satisfaction. Many gynaecologists believe increased collagen leads to greater blood flow, which in turn makes the nerve endings more receptive, giving a better result than simply bulking the tissues through Kegel exercises.
Dr Karim has performed the procedure on about 90 patients in the UK, mostly in their 30s to 50s.
And her early feedback from clients has been overwhelmingly positive, with more than 80 per cent reporting lasting improvements a year after treatment.
Sex feels noticeably more sensitive and pleasurable, and this, in turn, has lifted my libido. Suddenly my kids seem easier to manage knowing that my sex life hasn’t been damaged by the demands of parenthood
Articulate, charming and funny, Dr Karim offers a range of facial and body treatment at her clinics on Harley Street and in Northwood, Middlesex, where the car park outside is lined with SUVs parked up before the school run.
‘I’d worked in facial aesthetics for over a decade, so the next step was always non-invasive body treatments,’ she told me as she ran through the one-off procedure in her immaculate office.
‘There’s still a certain taboo around talking about this sort of intimate procedure, although in my experience it’s something a lot of women moving from their 40s into middle age discuss quite openly with girlfriends,’ says Dr Karim.
‘And it’s become increasingly clear to me that there’s an appetite for it among women as they go through the menopause, too.’
Geneveve can allegedly take a woman who has had two children back to her pre-childbirth shape.
‘What about when you have five kids?’ I ask Dr Karim, who laughs, telling me she hopes it will get me back to where I was after two.
The 30 minute procedure, named Geneveve can allegedly take a woman who has had two children back to her pre-childbirth shape (file image)
Not all of Dr Karim’s clients who opt for this procedure have children, since lifestyle, specifically smoking and diet, also play a role in how fast collagen breaks down in the skin, although she admits it’s mostly down to genes.
During the 30-minute treatment, which doesn’t require general or local anaesthetic, a small instrument about the size and shape of a tampon, attached to a console, is inserted and tiny pulses of radiofrequency target the deepest layers of tissue without damaging the surface skin.
The frequency and dosage is consistent for all clients, since the radiofrequency is selected specifically to optimise its effects.
As with collagen treatments on the face, the area responds over the following weeks by creating new collagen that plumps it up, with the bonus of potentially increasing sensation. The results improve over several months, and should create the conditions for better sex.
The treatment costs about £2,500 and works by increasing sensation. The brave mother admits despite her nerves initially trying it she now finds sex more pleasurable (file image)
At about £2,500, it isn’t cheap, but the treatment itself is no more invasive than a smear test, and a walk in the park for anyone who’s ever given birth! The Geneveve gets good results, but it’s not the only treatment of its type in the UK.
The MonaLisa Touch, available at a number of clinics across the UK, is a similar technique recommended for women to treat a decrease in oestrogen by stimulating and rejuvenating collagen. It’s particularly effective during menopause, after childbirth and also after cancer treatment, and the treatment targets the natural effects of ageing.
It’s recommended patients have up to three treatments, roughly one month apart. Like the Geneveve, initial results have been promising, although, at £300 to £700 per treatment, depending on the clinic location, it’s not cheap, either. If committing to clinic appointments — and costs — is daunting, there are also hand-held devices that can be used more discreetly at home, such as the vSculpt, £375, a small white device that uses infra-red light therapy to energise skin cells, encouraging them to produce collagen, while a gentle heat sensation boosts blood flow and vibrations increase the tone of the pelvic floor.
Since this is such an intimate treatment, I was, I admit, slightly nervous about the results. But sex feels noticeably more sensitive and pleasurable, and this, in turn, has lifted my libido. Suddenly my kids seem easier to manage knowing that my sex life hasn’t been damaged by the demands of parenthood.
Nine months after my treatment, I am still delighted with the results.
My body feels more alive and responsive to sex than ever before, and I can use the trampoline with abandon.
The skin on my face might still look like that of a 42-year-old, but inside, I feel far, far younger.
Geneveve treatment costs about £2,500, revereclinics.com