THE O-SHOT

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Beauty -

CMir­a­cle in­jec­tion or shot in the dark? A rad­i­cal new treat­ment, cur­rently only avail­able in Amer­ica,

may just be the fu­ture cure for women’s bed­room blues. By Rachel Kramer Bus­sel.

all it the shot heard round the world – only this time the revo­lu­tion is on be­half of mod­ern women. The O-Shot, a new non-in­va­sive treat­ment, aims to al­le­vi­ate fe­male sex­ual dys­func­tion by ex­tract­ing platelet-rich plasma (PRP), from a woman’s own blood and in­ject­ing it di­rectly into the vagi­nal area. As cos­metic doc­tor Charles Runels ex­plains, the O-Shot uses PRP to stim­u­late growth of new cells in a woman’s vagi­nal walls and cli­toris. The platelets, which nat­u­rally gen­er­ate tis­sue, in­crease not only the num­ber of cells but also, he claims, sen­si­tiv­ity to stim­u­la­tion.

Runels was in­spired by the ar­ray of treat­ments avail­able for men with sex­ual prob­lems, and the glar­ing void when it came to fe­male sex­ual dys­func­tion, even though more than 40 per­cent of Amer­i­can women are es­ti­mated to suf­fer from it. There was noth­ing sim­i­lar for women, re­calls Sa­muel Wood, a San Diego re­pro­duc­tive en­docri­nol­o­gist who be­gan a clin­i­cal trial on the pro­ce­dure in 2011. He and Runels are hope­ful that the in-of­fice treat­ment, which takes about 20 min­utes and can be done only by a cer­ti­fied doc­tor or nurse-prac­ti­tioner, will be the an­swer.

Take Na­dia*, 39, a mother of three who found sex with her fi­ancé lack­ing. In her younger days, she says, “I was turned on when­ever the guy was,” but by her late 30s, that same level of arousal “re­quired so much fore­play, I was ready to give up.” Though she tried over-the-counter lu­bri­cants, she com­plained they didn’t last. When she heard about the O-Shot, she de­cided to give it a try. She now has an or­gasm ev­ery time she has sex, “stronger ones than I used to have when I was younger.” Sim­i­larly, Gail*, 53, has been mar­ried for 20 years and had re­signed her­self to lack­lus­tre, once-a-month love­mak­ing. “I wasn’t re­ally aroused no mat­ter what we did,” she re­veals. So when her nurseprac­ti­tioner sug­gested the shot, she was more than will­ing. The re­sult? She no­ticed an im­me­di­ate ef­fect, and re­turned home from work that day ready to go. Whereas be­fore, she’d fake or­gasms and felt “in­ad­e­quate”, she now looks for­ward to sex.

How does the O-Shot work? First, the pa­tient’s blood is drawn (about half a tea­spoon) and placed in a cen­trifuge to sep­a­rate out the PRP. To de­ter­mine where an in­jec­tion will have max­i­mum re­sults, Wood does “vagi­nal map­ping”, ask­ing the pa­tient where she’s most sen­si­tive, and then an anaes­thetic cream is ap­plied to the area. “You have to un­der­stand each woman’s sex­u­al­ity and her anatomy to know where to put it,” he ex­plains. The pro­ce­dure, which costs USD1,200 to USD1,500 (RM3,950 to RM4,940) and isn’t cov­ered by in­sur­ance, has the added ben­e­fit of cre­at­ing what he refers to as an im­me­di­ate vo­lu­mis­ing ef­fect, which lasts up to a week. The real pay­off, though, comes over the next few months as the PRP “stim­u­lates the stem cells, col­la­gen, and blood ves­sels,” says Runels, who calls it “fer­tiliser to grow the tis­sue.” (The over­all ef­fect should last at least 18 months.)

As for safety, Runels claims no se­ri­ous side ef­fects have been re­ported. The treat­ment it­self doesn’t re­quire FDA over­sight, al­though an FDA-cleared kit is re­quired to pre­pare the plasma. Laura Berman, au­thor of Lov­ing Sex: The Book of Joy and Pas­sion, is con­cerned about the lack of sci­en­tific stud­ies thus far. (Re­sults of both Runels’s and Wood’s clin­i­cal tri­als will be pub­lished this year.) “There’s no mech­a­nism of ac­tion that I can see that would re­ally fa­cil­i­tate arousal and or­gasm,” Berman says. “It feels like they’re tak­ing ad­van­tage of a valid long­ing that mil­lions of women have and stat­ing a claim that hasn’t been sup­ported in any sub­stan­tial way other than through anec­do­tal re­ports.”

Per­haps Dena Har­ris, a New York gy­nae­col­o­gist who has treated women suf­fer­ing from vul­var pain with PRP and is in­ter­ested in see­ing study re­sults, sums it up best: “I don’t know if it works, but I re­ally hope it does.” *Names have been changed.

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