By Brittany Risher
Better orgasms, a tighter vagina, more lubrication, increased libido—many people with vaginas would leap to experience one of these benefits, and to know them all? Well, paying for that wouldn't be out of the question for some. No wonder certain doctors offer the Orgasm Shot, or O-Shot, to “rejuvenate” your vagina. But this procedure also has its critics...which maybe isn't a surprise given that you're putting a needle into the vagina and clitoris.
Learn what the science says (and doesn't say) about the O-Shot before you spread your legs for one of these injections.
What Is the O-Shot?
Charles Runels, MD, a physician in Alabama, invented the O-Shot. (He also invented the so-called “Vampire Facelift”.) During the procedure, the doctor takes platelet rich plasma from the patient's own blood and injects it into the clitoris and anterior vaginal wall (where the G-spot is located). This platelet rich plasma is believed to promote growth factors (the name for biologically active molecules that can affect the growth of cells) that cause healing and rejuvenation, making the injected areas healthier and more robust.
A needle to the clit isn't something most people with a clitoris would willingly do. That's why doctors use a cream to numb the areas first. While they let the cream do its thing, they take blood from the patient's arm. This blood is put into a centrifuge, where it's spun to separate the red blood cells from the platelet rich plasma.
Once the patient's clitoris and vagina are numb, the doctor uses a needle to inject the platelet rich plasma into both. The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes and most women see results in two to three weeks, although some report feeling changes sooner or even immediately. Doctors say there's no down time or side effects, and some women choose to repeat the shot once a year or every six months.
Why Would I Want an O-Shot?
The Orgasm Shot is marketed as helping with a slew of women's health issues:
- Decreased libido
- Decreased ability to orgasm
- Dryness (with resulting painful intercourse) from menopause or breast cancer treatment
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Urge urinary incontinence
- Lichen sclerosus
- Lichen planus
- Postpartum fecal incontinence
- Chronic pain from trauma from child birth
- Chronic pain from mesh
- Chronic interstitial cystitis
Anecdotally, women report increased arousal, greater natural lubrication, and stronger and more frequent orgasms. We're talking the kind that make your toes curl, your mind blow, and all those other cliches.
Does the O-Shot Work?
While this may all sound a bit like a fantasy come true, there's a big asterisk that comes with the Orgasm Shot: The only published research on the procedure is in the Journal of Women's Health Care. The studies in this journal don't go through something called a peer review. During this process, scientists knowledgeable about the topic but not involved in the study review the work. While it's not a perfect system, most researchers agree it's a good “quality control” for accuracy and bias.
But that's not the only criticism. Yes, the two studies indicate that the O-Shot may help improve arousal, lubrication, desire, and orgasm. However, the first study, published in 2014 by Runels, included only 11 women. These women presented with four different types of sexual dysfunction, so the study wasn't comparing apples to apples.
There also wasn't any control group to compare these women with, which is important because the placebo effect is a real thing. Just taking a pill—or, in this case, getting a shot—can make you psych yourself into thinking you notice a positive change in your symptoms. Two women also experienced “extreme arousal”. Considering this included arousal with urination, continuous sexual arousal, and spontaneous orgasm, it's probably safe to say most people would not consider “extreme arousal” a positive side effect.
A second study published in 2017 in the same journal included 68 women seeing one doctor for a range of issues: stress incontinence, overactive bladder, lack of lubrication, sexual dysfunction, and a mixture of symptoms. However, the way the study lumped these women together, it's difficult to draw any conclusions about the O-Shot's effectiveness.
Add it all up, and it's hard to say the O-Shot will do anything for you. It may simply not work, or it may only work for certain women and not others. (Kind of like how some types of stimulation and positions get some women off but don't do a thing for others.)
It's important also to not overlook the psychological side of orgasm and conditions like hypoactive sexual desire disorder. If there's friction in your relationship, if you're stressed out from taking care of children or aging parents, or if there are any other external stresses, chances are, it's going to impact your sex life. And a shot cannot help with that (but therapy might).
Lastly, the shot also isn't approved by the FDA, and it's pretty costly. The exact price varies from doctor to doctor, but most online reports quote $1,500 to $2,500 per session. That's a lot of money for a lot of unknowns. The decision comes down to the individual woman, but for many, it may not be worth it.
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