December 1, 2020

Red flags on stem cells sold for vaginal rejuvenation

Red flags on stem cells sold for vaginal rejuvenation

Red flags on stem cells sold for vaginal rejuvenation
An example of regenerative vaginal rejuvenation marketing. This medical approach, sometimes using stem cells, seems risky to me. Also, I found there is little evidence it works.

When you read marketing terms like “stem cell treatment for sexual enhancement” or more specifically stem cells for “vaginal rejuvenation” what comes to mind?

And are stem cell treatments a viable option for vaginal rejuvenation or sexual enhancement?

So far, the data do not clearly back up this approach as both safe and definitely effective.

Nonetheless there is a vast amount of marketing in this area. Also, the number of publications on regenerative approaches to female sexual health is skyrocketing.

Note only are there big price tags but also real risks that apply more broadly to the arena of sexual regenerative medicine.

You can read my past two-part series on stem cells and sex here and here.

Sexual regenerative medicine

As we get older, the different cells, tissues, and organs in our bodies of course age too. Sometimes this happens in ways we don’t like. In terms of sexual health, aging can negatively affect some people in various ways. The idea pitched with vaginal rejuvenation is to reverse that aging-associated process, often with stem cells or other associated products sold at clinics.

But vaginal rejuvenation can mean many different things. If you look it up on the web, some firms are marketing hormonal approaches, while others are pitching more unusual ideas like stem cell injections into the genitals or the use of lasers. Historically, vaginal rejuvenation most often meant a surgical approach and that still may be offered.

Unfortunately, unproven treatments for sexual dysfunction or for enhancements are not that uncommon specifically in the unproven stem cell clinic arena. To me some of what’s going on seems especially risky. Here’s a recent example on the male side.

Stem cells for vaginal rejuvenation? The data aren’t there

The aging vagina and the overall pelvis can change in ways that make sex less enjoyable for some women.

The idea behind stem cell-based vaginal rejuvenation is that injections of stem cells or related materials might reverse these changes. This approach is sometimes called stem cell vaginoplasty.

While a growing number of clinics including not surprisingly in Beverly Hills are selling the idea, my impression is that there is no clear evidence supporting this approach to sexual health in women. Also, it’s going to have some substantial risks. Still the clinics portray this as a beneficial way to go.

One clinic even has a picture of a woman with a happy face tucked in her underwear as marketing (see above) and the implication overall seems to be that this approach will yield more orgasms. There are also a bunch of cheery videos about stem cell vaginal injections on YouTube, but I did find the one above that rightly takes at least a somewhat more cautionary tone.

The risks here include infection, worsening of sexual health, immune problems, and other issues.

Stem cells for male sexual issues, penis rejuvenation, enhancement

For men, stem cells have been proposed to enhance sexual performance and reverse effects of aging. It’s unclear whether this works, but there are definitely risks. Some clinics claim they can reverse erectile dysfunction, but there’s almost zero evidence for that. You still see “penis rejuvenation” with stem cells being marketed as well.

More recently, health celeb Ben Greenfield reportedly injected his penis with non-FDA approved fat stem cells, which to me seems like a terrible idea. I guess the goal was penis enhancement.

Who doctors perform stem cell genital procedures?

Cosmetic surgeons are the ones who offer sex-related stem cell or regenerative procedures the most of any speciality but perhaps an even larger category is a hodgepodge of providers with no real training in cosmetics or sexual organs. They could be doctors of any specialty.

Cosmetic stem cell procedures more generally have been growing in number for almost a decade. One of the early popular posts here on The Niche covered this way back in 2012: From boobs to baldness: stem cells go cosmetic.

I also see some urologists out there selling sexual regenerative medicine interventions of various kinds.

A future for sexual regenerative medicine?

The broader idea of rejuvenating the aging vagina using different methods has attracted some seemingly “out there” ideas even from mainstream providers such as The Cleveland Clinic, which has a page on “energy based” rejuvenation. The FDA issued a warning about this “energy” approach and other kinds of rejuvenation approaches.

I’ve even seen clinic operators say they themselves have had vaginal injections either with stem cells, PRP, or other biologics.

Overall, while not a physician myself, I would strongly recommend that women not try this. Note that this post is not meant as medical advice.

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