The O-Shot: Vaginal Injections To 'Improve Orgasms' Is A Worrying New Trend

Photographed by Ashley Armitage
You've probably heard of the "vampire facial" – in which one's own blood is injected back into the face – but you may not have heard of the "O-Shot". It's like the vampire facial, but for your vagina. The nonsurgical treatment involves a woman's own blood – or "platelet-rich plasma" – being taken from her arm and injected into the clitoris and vagina, creating a blood clot (a haematoma), which some private clinics say enhances sensitivity and subsequently orgasm.
The US leads the world when it comes to cosmetic procedures aimed at our vaginas, so it's no surprise that the O-Shot was born there. It was created by cosmetic Dr Charles Runels, the man behind the vampire facelift, and is now available at several private UK clinics, usually at a cost of over £1,000. The US has already given us vaginal rejuvenation and labia fillers, potentially dangerous cosmetic treatments aimed at women's genitalia, and there's evidence that the O-Shot – which doctors and women's health experts have warned carries serious risks – is also gaining traction among women in the UK.
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Dr Sherif Wakil, who offers the treatment at his Harley Street clinic, was trained by Runels himself and claims to have been the first to introduce it to Europe in 2014. Wakil tells Refinery29 there has been an increase in interest in the procedure at his clinic in recent years – in 2014 he claims to have treated roughly 100 women, but by last year he estimates the figure had reached between 600-700 annually.
Other clinics offering the procedure that Refinery29 spoke to reported a spike in interest in the O-Shot of late. The London-based Artistry Clinic, which calls its version of the injection the "Femi-Shot" and began offering it in 2017 has seen a threefold increase in the number of women undergoing the procedure: from just 10 in 2017 to 30 last year. The number of treatments carried out at Essex Private Doctors, which has offered the O-Shot since 2015, doubled from just five to about 10 per year between 2016 and 2018.
Dr Sarah Shah from Artistry Clinic says women in their 20s and 30s are most likely to seek out the treatment because, she believes, they are "more sexually active" and therefore experience more incidences of sexual dysfunction. They are also the age group "most likely to have an aesthetic procedure," she says.

The O-Shot is an untested and dubious procedure, I'd urge women to steer well clear.

Anne Henderson, Consultant gynaecologist
The O-Shot may be increasingly commonplace, but the verdict among women's health professionals is clear. Consultant gynaecologist Anne Henderson describes it as an "untested and dubious procedure" and would urge women to steer well clear. But she believes interest in it will likely increase further in the near future, given the growing popularity of other nonsurgical cosmetic procedures (such as fillers and Botox).
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"There are potential risks of autologous [the collection and reinfusion of the patient's own red blood cells] blood injections such as this, particularly into a very sensitive area such as the genital region, where there is a high density of blood vessels and nerve fibres which could potentially be traumatised or damaged," says Henderson.

The O-Shot could result in bleeding and bruising, as well as infection.

The O-Shot could result in bleeding and bruising, as well as infection, which, Henderson warns, "could have even more serious consequences, and the risk of nerve damage which could cause long-term problems with vaginal pain, including pain with intercourse."
Some believe that introducing blood clots – or haematoma – into the area, which the O-Shot does, risks making it less sensitive – the opposite of what the treatment purports to do, warns Dr Leila Frodsham, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine. "If you inject blood into anything with a very good blood and nerve supply, there’s a risk of it causing damage."
Frodsham continued: "This procedure is effectively giving you a haematoma, a blood clot, which are often caused by a trauma, such as childbirth or a saddle bar injury. Women with blood clots in this area generally complain of increased pain or reduced sensation. Blood clots do not increase sexual satisfaction. More of my time is spent with women saying they think they’ve got issues because of blood clots, rather than with women thinking about curing something with blood clots."
The RCOG warned against the O-Shot in November 2017, yet despite this, its popularity in the UK appears to be increasing. RCOG spokesperson Dr Naomi Crouch said there was "no proven evidence or research studies to suggest that injecting a woman’s blood into her clitoris would improve her chances of having an orgasm," and warned of the potential risks. "The clitoris is a very delicate and sensitive organ and injecting any substance into it could cause damage to nerves or blood vessels, which could cause more problems with sexual sensation and function."
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Gynaecologist and chief Goop-debunker Dr Jen Gunter has also condemned the practice. Writing on her blog, she said there were "no studies at all suggesting the 'O-Shot' improves orgasm or sexual function". She continued: "There is no animal or human data suggesting it is safe to inject in vaginal epithelium or into the clitoris. Who knows if this could spread the human papilloma virus or herpes to other areas of the lower genital tract?" adding that she could "think of a thousand ways this could harm women".
But given the pressure that women feel to orgasm from penetrative sex, it's unsurprising that many believe they're abnormal because they're unable to do so, and so seek out treatments like the O-Shot. "In reality only a third of women do that regularly, about a third occasionally and a third never," says Dr Frodsham. "I see a lot of women at my clinic who believe they’re not normal."
The RCOG encourages women having difficulties orgasming to see their GP or go to a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. "Difficulty having an orgasm can be caused by a number of physical or psychological issues including not being stimulated sufficiently, worrying about sexual performance, mood disorders such as depression, problems with physical health, a lack of knowledge or fear of sex, a previous traumatic sexual experience, problems in the relationship or the menopause," said Dr Crouch.
Dr Frodsham believes people experiencing sexual dysfunction are "very vulnerable" to quick-fix procedures that claim to fix the problem, and that there are "a lot of people making a lot of money out of them". She recommends that anyone with sexual issues should contact professionals affiliated with the Institute of Psychosexual Medicine or the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists.
There are also products available that may be of genuine merit to people in that situation, she adds, including Zestra (which, while not widely available in the UK, she says is "clinically proven to work"), and Durex's Orgasmic Gel, which she says is "less effective" but easier to come by in the UK for women with reduced sensation. Hey, anything's better than a clitoral injection.
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