A recent press release touts a new vaginal injection known as the “O-Shot.” Because women’s bodies are apparently insufficient without surgery.
The procedure, which uses growth factors derived from “a woman’s own blood,” appears to be the spiritual offspring of the “Vampire Facelift” (also pioneered by a member of the O-Shot team) and the G-Shot (another media-frenzied procedure introduced a few years ago at Tupperware-style parties). Having been contacted via email by many a supposed Nigerian Prince, my mental scam detector went off when I read the press release, and I wanted to investigate the legitimacy of my unease.
Unsurprisingly, the news has also alarmed health professionals and sex educators alike, including Kinsey Confidential’s own Debby Herbenick, who responds to the press release with a thorough critique of the its logical fallacies and alarming claims. Similarly, I’d like to add to Dr. Herbenick’s analysis briefly by looking into some of the terminology used in the press release, and attempting to gauge the validity of the health and scientific claims made therein.
I’d specifically like to focus on two aspects of the procedure that I found most troubling, mainly the proposed “injection of platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs),” which are “derived from a woman’s own blood,” and the reference of the previously unrecognized “O-Spot.”
1. “Growth Factors”
The above mentioned “growth factors” are actually a real thing, it turns out. Growth factors, more often referred to as cytokines, regulate cellular processes, including cell growth, proliferation and differentiation. You could think of them as messengers that travel between cells. And while they do play a role in regulating cell growth, they do not, as the term “growth factor” erroneously implies, stimulate, cause or promote it. I find it problematic that the “O-Shot” and the “Vampire Facelift” websites unanimously use the misleading term “growth factor” instead of the more medically-used “cytokine.”
I had one other concern with the procedural use of growth factors, but this one was purely aesthetic: In both the ill-named “Vampire Facelift” and the “O-Shot,” “growth factors” are separated from a sample of the patient’s blood and injected directly into the tissue in question. Having spent my undergraduate years in the Folklore department here at IU, I cannot help but be immediately reminded of the Countess Elizabeth of Bathory, who is said to have obsessively believed in and sought to utilize the youth-restoring powers of young girls’ blood. But I digress.
2. The “O-Spot”
Secondly, I would like to draw attention now to how the procedure targets the so-called “O-Spot,” which supposedly exists somewhere in the mysterious recesses of the human vagina. From the press release:
“This area of responsiveness is distinct enough from the ill-defined ‘G-Spot’ that we felt it deserved its own name. The name we chose is the ‘O-Spot™‘ (“Orgasm Spot™’).”
My analysis here will be brief: I didn’t know that folks could trademark parts of the human body. I thought you could only trademark things you’ve invented.
Burke Denning is an MPH student at Indiana University, and is currently interning at the Kinsey Institute. Her studies are centered around the promotion of holistic sexual health and education that seeks to improve quality of life, and expands beyond the prevention and treatment of disease, dysfunction and unintended pregnancy.