Sexual rejuvenation for women is no longer something to whisper about behind closed doors. Lucy Slight uncovers the latest trends in appearance and sexual function medicine.
The term ‘sexual healing’ became synonymous with romantic liaisons when Marvin Gaye released the steamy single in 1982, but in 2016, the term is taking on a whole new meaning – for women in particular. For the past 17 years, men have had easy access to medication to treat sexual dysfunction, while the topic has largely remained a no-go zone for women’s concerns.
However, Addyi, a female version of Viagra, has been granted approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States. While Viagra helps men achieve erections and treats testosterone deficiencies, Addyi treats a flagging or absent libido in women, as well as men.
There have been concerns regarding the safety and effectiveness of Addyi (it was rejected twice by the FDA before advocates campaigned for its approval), but it’s the public dialogue that’s now taking place around women’s sexual pleasure and dysfunction that’s perhaps the most positive outcome of the drug’s approval.
The subject has gained traction over the last two years, says Dr Catherine Stone of The Face Place in Auckland. Dr Stone is campaigning for ‘sexual healing’ in women – and men – in the form of non-invasive rejuvenation surgery rather than pills. From orgasm shots (O-shot) to labial tightening, there’s nothing too taboo when it comes to the topic of sexual rejuvenation at Dr Stone’s clinic. Here are the latest treatments to get you living libido loca.
Considered a holistic approach to improving sexual function, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses the patient’s own blood to heal tissue in the sexual organs. The O-shot for women and Priapus (or P-shot) for men are made with plasma taken from the body and injected into precise locations to rejuvenate orgasm function, by forming new blood vessels and sensory cells. The O-shot helps with decreased sensitivity, inability to orgasm, vaginal dryness, painful sex and reduced desire.
“Forty three percent of women will suffer from sexual dysfunction in their lifetime,” says Dr Stone. “That’s very high and it’s probably under-reported as well. With the O-shot, there’s a 60 percent success rate after one treatment, and up to 85 to 90 percent with a second treatment, based on the studies that have been done so far.”
The men’s equivalent, the P-shot, helps with erections and enhances sensitivity, with a significant proportion of men also experiencing an improvement in girth and size,says Dr Stone.
PRP has also been successful as a treatment for improving nipple sensitivity, particularly for women who have lost sensation after having breast implants, and for those suffering from stress urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence is caused by a weakening of the sphincter pelvic muscles, often as a result of childbirth, and with the O-shot, muscle tissues are able to regenerate and improve their strength and ability to control urine flow.
“It’s an immediate result for a lot of people,” says Dr Stone. “Sometimes that subsides over a couple of weeks and then slowly comes back again over about six to eight weeks, but for most people it’s an instant change. It’s phenomenal.”
Thermi-Va is currently being trialled at The Face Place for vaginal tightening, improving incontinence, sensitivity and lubrication, as well as shrinking the labia minora (inner vaginal lips). Like a face lift for your nether-regions, the procedure can improve sexual comfort by treating appearance-related concerns, such as stretched or enlarged labia, as well as internal issues, such as dryness and laxity in the vaginal canal after childbirth.
This non-surgical procedure uses radio frequency to gently heat tissue through an S-shaped device. Heat and energy work to shrink the skin and tighten tissue. “Thermi-Va heats the outside of the skin using an ultrasound gel, it’s like a warm massage,” says Dr Stone, who recently trained with the inventor of Thermi-Va, Dr Red Alisod, in Los Angeles.
Three separate sessions of treatment are recommended over a three-month period and results last from nine to 12 months. The Face Place is the first clinic in the region to use the machine.
Hyaluronic acid fillers
Where genital enhancement is concerned, hyaluronic acid fillers have also been on Stone’s radar as an option for inflating the labia majora – the outer vaginal lips – which shrink with age and expose the labia minora. Hyaluronic acid (HA), which is used in many facial fillers such as Juvederm and Restylane, is considered a safe option because of its compatibility with the human body.
According to Dr Stone, female enhancement using HA filler was a hot topic at the IMCAS Paris World Congress earlier this year – an international conference which presents research into aesthetic-medicine procedures.
“When we get older, just as we lose fullness through the cheeks, we lose fullness through the fat pad of the labia majora and the mons pubis, which is the front part. So a lot of people are using fillers through this area to plump it up, with really good and instant effect,” says Dr Stone, who has performed the procedure using a combination of PRP and dermal filler.
“There are some differing studies regarding HA injections into the vagina as there is a reported risk of granuloma (permanent lumps) and possibly fistula formation in this area,” she says, adding that injecting the G-spot with HA fillers has been banned by the American Gynaecological Society.
The conference brought to light that the demand for sexual rejuvenation in women is on the increase, says Dr Stone. Two years ago the topic was covered in one session, she says, whereas last year it took up a morning and this year saw a day and a half dedicated to the subject.
“It’s showing how much of a subject it is,” she says. “I think as people are becoming aware of it and the possibilities, it’s driving demand, which is then driving more technology.”