My life with Lichen Sclerosus
I’m Lena, I’m 45 years old and have been perimenopausal for over two years. Today, I want to talk about an auto-immune condition I was diagnosed with at 29 years old, known as Lichen Sclerosus (LS).
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body and the cause is unknown.
What is LS?
Lichen sclerosus is a long-term skin condition that mainly affects the skin of the genitals. Commonly, the skin becomes patchy and is thinner than normal around the vaginal area. The symptoms can cause redness, itching, discomfort, tearing, bleeding, and very painful sex.
Before my diagnosis, these symptoms created a great deal of anxiety for me. I knew something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t sure what the problem was.
Whilst many women experience these symptoms, it can still be really difficult to talk about. Often, the symptoms are mistaken for other more well-known conditions such as UTI’s, thrush, ulcers & lesions.
Who is more likely to suffer from LS?
LS is a condition which is fairly common in postmenopausal women. Although it’s not generally associated with younger women, it can and does affect women at any age.
I’ve found the more I talk about it, the more I find younger women suffering from LS symptoms.
Is there anything you can do about it?
I think of myself as one of the lucky ones as I had an incredible and much-trusted OBGYN, Shohreh Beski who was able to diagnose me quickly. I started using steroid creams and a barrier cream which helped to manage my symptoms fairly well.
It was only after having children that the symptoms became worse. Sex was excruciatingly painful. The vaginal atrophy that I experienced with menopause made it worse (a thinning and drying of the vaginal walls which happens when the body makes less oestrogen).
I was desperate for some help, and by this time my OBGYN was involved in pioneering mesenchymal stem cell work for vaginal regenerative treatment. It was known as Lipogems. This is a minimally invasive treatment that uses your own natural repair fat cells to treat your problem areas, in this case, the vagina.
This process helps to repair damaged tissue, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.
Over 18 months ago, I was one of the first patients in the UK to try Lipogems. To be honest, I didn’t even hesitate in saying yes to this experimental treatment. I trusted my OBGYN, Shohreh, implicitly. She delivered both of my children and had always been incredibly vocal about the importance of women’s health.
Did Lipogem work?
I am happy to say that Lipogem has been a huge success for me. It has cleared up all of the symptoms I was experiencing so that I no longer have dryness, itchiness or any pain during intercourse. This has also had a positive impact on me emotionally.
Since the procedure, I have had three, six, nine and twelve-month check-ups which have further reassured and supported me.
Awareness of lichen sclerosus
I have been keen to share my story and raise awareness of LS. I also wanted to share my positive experience of Lipogems so that women who suffer from lichen sclerosus realise that there are options to explore when it comes to treating these unpleasant symptoms. It’s important to raise awareness that many younger women can suffer from LS too. It can also be seen in girls of pre-puberty age.
The group of women who have had the treatment so far all resulted in really positive outcomes and we are all between the ages of 23 and 79 years old.
If you would like to hear more about my experience I’m more than happy to answer any questions from a patient’s perspective, so please do get in touch on Lena@riseiq.com.