Feb. 20, 2008 -- Forget Botox parties and sex toy soirees. A new and controversial type of get-together has some women claiming enhanced sexual pleasure — it also has some sex experts worried that these women could be putting their health at risk.
The gathering in question is called a G-shot party. And the women in attendance hope that a doctor can help to increase their sensitivity during sex through a special injection on the area on the inside front wall of the vagina, known as the G spot.
Heather Greene, who requested her real name not be used, is a 42-year-old Los Angeles woman who attended a G-shot party Feb. 12.
"When I first heard about it, I just started laughing hysterically because it was the funniest thing I had ever heard of," Greene said. "It was just so outrageous."
But she says despite the initial humor, the shot gave her sex life a serious boost.
"There is no way you can miss where the G spot is now," she said. "That was kind of shocking to me."
It's precisely the type of review that David Matlock, gynecologist and innovator of the technique, hopes to achieve through the gatherings, which he says always occur at a doctor's office.
"Our study showed that 87 percent of women reported enhanced sexual arousal because of an enhanced G spot," he said. "What we're doing is basically talking to women in a small group about this procedure, with individual exams and procedures in the office."
But the G shot is not a risk-free procedure. And a number of sexual health experts say that until there is more research behind the techniques, women should be wary of the injection.
"This is a medical procedure, it is invasive, it involves inserting something into the vagina, it has never been tested, and it has never been approved by the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]," said Jennifer Bass, director of communications for the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in Bloomington, Ind. She added that she is concerned the promotion and advertisement of the technique may drive women to seek it out and ignore the potential health risks.
"This isn't a sex toy we're talking about here," she said. "I would hope that women take a different approach and have a sex toy party rather than one involving a medical procedure."
Is It Safe?
If there is any doubt that the procedure has its potential risks, one need only look at the consent form that all women must sign before having the procedure performed. The two-page document lists 68 risks associated with the procedure, ranging from "No effect at all" to "Scar formation" and "Sexual dysfunction."
But thus far, Matlock said, there have been no such injuries of which he is aware. Plus, he said, he only teaches the technique to trained gynecologists, plastic surgeons and urologists. And, he maintains, the simplicity of the procedure lends itself to safe results.
"First we numb the area with lidocaine using a very small needle that many patients don't even feel," he said. "Then we inject right under the mucosa in the area of the G spot with collagen to augment it."
And Matlock added that collagen injection into the vaginal area for medical purposes has been performed since the 1940s, mainly for the treatment of urinary incontinence.
But using the filler to pump up the G spot is a much newer indication. And a study that documents the safety and efficacy of the procedure has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Still, there are many women who are willing to give it a try. And since the G shot is a lunchtime procedure, with women entering the doctors' office and leaving 15 minutes later, women can get it done quickly and discreetly. Adding to the discreet nature of the procedure, recovery time from the procedure is on the scale of hours according to the G-shot Web site.
Greene recalled that her experience was not an unpleasant one. "The only thing I felt was the needle with the anesthetic going in, and I felt a tiny pinch. I've had gynecological exams that were much more uncomfortable."
And while she says she recalls seeing the laundry list of potential risks, when asked Greene could name one of them.
But therein may lie the danger. Bass said she worries that the group atmosphere of a G-shot party could cause women to ignore the potential risks of the procedure.
"Whenever you insert anything into the body without knowing what the risks or the long-term consequences are, you're putting yourself in danger," she said.
The Propriety of a Party
But Matlock said just because the procedure is being offered at a party does not make it any more dangerous. And he added that the guidelines of the party are tightly controlled in order to maintain a professional treatment atmosphere.
"In a Botox party, you're doing it at a home. The attendees drink alcohol and so on," he said. "The G-shot party is done in the doctor's office, with a group of women, and giving them education on the procedure together."
"There is no alcohol, no wine, no cocktails," Matlock said, adding that liquid refreshment is limited to coffee and soft drinks.
Not all sexuality experts said such parties were an altogether bad idea. Judy Kuriansky, sex therapist and author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex," said there are pros and cons to the "parties" to discuss the procedure.
"This is like an outgrowth of the early consciousness-raising groups that women had 30 years ago," she said, citing that such gatherings had the positive effect of teaching women about their own sexual arousal and responses.
But she said she fears the popularity of the procedure is a product of an almost competitive view of sexuality, in which women are pressured to perform.
"This is ripe for exploitation and even more pressure on women," she said.
Donnica Moore, an obstetrician/gynecologist and president of the Sapphire Women's Health Group, suggested a party of a different kind might be more productive.
"How about we have a party that invites male partners to come and be instructed on where the location of the G spot is?" she said. "While we're at it, we can also show them how to locate the clitoris.
"Female sexual satisfaction is based a lot more on what's going on in the relationship than what's going on in or around the G spot."
Quick Procedure, No Quick Fix
Greene said she does not yet know whether she will opt for a top-up procedure in the coming months. Part of her decision may be based on the costs; a single shot of the filler used in the procedure costs $1,850, while a double shot — which Greene opted for — runs $2,500.
And it's safe to say that the controversy over the offering will not have died down before it is time for her to make her decision. Matlock said he is not surprised that the method is controversial. But he said the availability of such procedures is a boon for many women who may not be getting the experience they desire from sex.
"Women have been completely left behind," he said. "When I talk about laser vaginal rejuvenation for women, yeah, there's controversy. But look it up; there are over 200 medical devices for male impotence."
Still, Kuriansky said the doctor's office may not be the first place for women to look for solutions to their sexual problems.
"If you enlarge this area, would it be possible that you would also want more stimulation in another area? What are you going to do, start injecting that area too?" she said. "The take-home point is for women to feel OK about their bodies and their responses. That is essential before putting pressure on yourself and starting to look to medical procedures."
Bass agreed. "We're always looking for quick fixes for lots of things in our lives, and sexuality is very complicated. It may take more than a shot to create a satisfactory sex life."