In 2014, a doctor named Charles Runels invented a procedure called the O-Shot, which purported to give women better sex, more orgasms, and even help cure incontinence. It involved injecting a component of a woman’s own blood into her vaginal wall to help make her more sensitive to stimulation—in other words, easier to turn on, get wet, and get off. Sounds extreme, right? And maybe a little like a scam if you didn’t know otherwise (Runels’ sketchy-looking website doesn’t help, TBH).
The O-Shot may not be new, but it is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. When it first came out, it received all kinds of publicity, from an in-depth article in Harper’s Bazaar to a report on Dr. Oz’s blog. Just a week or so ago, The Guardian published an exhaustive feature in which the writer flew to Runels’ clinic in Alabama, met his staff and several women he’s treated, and explored the science, gender issues, and psychology behind the O-Shot. (I recommend reading the whole thing, but here’s one quick highlight: “This is a man obsessed with making women come.”)
So when I got an email about a New York City location offering Runels’ procedure—he trademarked it, so anyone performing it has to train with him—I was intrigued, and wanted to find out more. VSPOT was founded by Cindy Barshop, a veteran of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” and calls itself a “women’s sexual health spa” with a team of female gynecologists specializing in non-surgical, painless vaginal rejuvenation. Sounds legit enough—I like any place with the mission to help women have happier, healthier sex lives.
Here’s how it works: For $2,500, a gynecologist numbs your entire vaginal area topically, before injecting platelet-rich plasma (or PRP) directly into the vaginal wall and clitoris. Platelet-rich plasma is a component of our blood that helps us heal ourselves by allowing our stem cells to grow new tissue, Barshop told me. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, PRP is often used to help athletes heal from injuries like sprained knees and tendon injuries. Why wouldn’t it work for our vaginas, too, I guess was Runels’ thinking when he first injected it into his girlfriend’s clitoris as a Valentine’s Day gift. (Seriously.)
In exchange for your trouble—and big-time investment—you’ll supposedly get an enhanced libido, a tighter vagina, clitoral rejuvenation, enhanced orgasms, and all-around better sex for around a year. According to Barshop, the PRP works by increasing sensitivity in our erogenous zones (which makes us more interested in sex), renewing blood vessels and spurring collagen production (which increases the vaginal wall’s elasticity, natural lubrication, engorgement, and sensation). Basically, to me it sounds like an anti-aging treatment for your vagina—it makes you more naturally tight, wet, and horny.
That’s all great, but here’s the issue: The O-Shot, despite being a few years old and promising super-appealing results, hasn’t been studied sufficiently. Nor is it FDA-approved. “Ultimately, this is not something I would suggest to my patients,” says Loryn Ashton, a women’s-health nurse practitioner with Maven digital health clinic. “Although the kit that is used—platelet-rich plasma—has been FDA-approved, it’s been approved for other parts of the body, not the vagina. As a medical provider, I get nervous referring my patients to something that is not FDA-approved.” The gynecologist consulted in The Guardian piece, Jennifer Gunter, MD, said the same thing, and also pointed out that “to get something approved by the FDA is a very low bar.”
So, in spite of the fact that the procedure has been performed 20,000 times worldwide with no adverse reactions or complications—as Barshop explained—I think any woman would be wise to hold off on getting the shot until it’s better-researched and FDA-approved. While I’m thrilled that there’s a doctor out there working on something that can help sexual violence victims or any woman who’d like to rejuvenate her vagina and sex life, for now, I say we stick to sex toys, porn, masturbation, and whatever else it takes to get us off.