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Pride comes before a fall: how my smugness led me to underestimate the power of ‘designer vagina’ PR

April 2nd, 2008

Dr Petra

Last Friday evening I received the following email from a PR company who clearly wanted to promote their client, but hadn’t worked out I probably wasn’t the best person to approach to do that for them.

“Dear Dr. Boynton,
Would you be interested in writing about this or perhaps giving me your thoughts on it.

The change of season sees lusty appetites soar….You could rely on the season or you could have a little help from the G-Shot brand new in the UK. Research has shown that use of sexual enhancement products is on the increase and the G-Shot is the ultimate enhancement for women. To arrange an interview with Prof Dartey please call me.

[name cut]

Account Director

T: [cut]

For Immediate release March 27 2008

The Ultimate ‘Facelift’
Ladies, the G-Shot(r) has now arrived in the UK courtesy of Professor P.K.W. Dartey at the UK Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Centre in Harley Street.

Professor P.K.W. Dartey is the UK’s first and only cosmetic gynaecologist approved to administer the G-Shot and has responded to the demands of British women who were having to fly over to the USA to get their G-spots turned into perpetual pleasure domes. One in ten American women have had cosmetic ‘work’ done to their vaginal area and it looks like gyneasthetics is now set to sweep the UK.

It’s a simple, non-surgical way to enhance women’s sexual experience. It increases a woman’s awareness of the G-Spot, allowing her and her partner to direct their stimulation to that zone. Studies in the USA found that that 87% percent of women who received the G-Shot reported enhanced sexual arousal and gratification, including frequency and duration of orgasms, multiple orgasms and a heightened desire for sex.

The delightful effects of the G-Shot can last up to 4 months and be renewed when necessary.

The G-Shot is a simple, painless, non-surgical procedure performed under local anaesthetic. The actual injection usually takes less than 8 seconds and the total visit time is usually less than 30 minutes. A specially designed speculum is used to assist in the delivery of a specified amount of human engineered collagen directly into the G-Spot.

The G-Shot temporarily enlarges the G-Spot. This results in a G-Spot about the size of a ten pence piece in width, and a quarter of an inch in height (meaning it projects more into the vagina). This makes your G-Spot easy to locate and highly sensitive, enhancing your sexual arousal and gratification.

The G-shot does not provide the answers for women who are unhappy with their sex lives or are incompatible with their partners in some way. It works best for women who are comfortable and confident with their sexuality, for those who are able to communicate what they like, what they want, what arouses them and what satisfies them. The G-Shot won’t cure the problem of not being able to orgasm or having unfulfilling sex, those issues often require far more complex cures and can’t be fixed in a lunch break. With the assistance of technical expertise and astute knowledge, making the choice to hit your spot every time has certainly never been easier or more achievable.

For further information about UK LVR telephone [cut] or Free phone [cut] or visit www.profdartey.com

Suite 2, 51 Harley Street, London W1G 8QQ

- Ends -

For further press information contact [name cut] or [name cut] at [name cut] PR Company on
T. [cut] or email [cut]

Notes to Editors:
Professor P.K. W. Dartey has worked as a Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology within the National Health Service for a number of years. He has been in private practice for over 20 years, during that time he has specialised and developed considerable expertise in vaginal surgery.

The following is a brief listing of Professor Phanuel K .W. Dartey’s credentials and affiliations:
* Fellow of the American Academy of cosmetic Surgery 2008
* Member of the International society of cosmetogynecology 2008
* Liposuction under local anesthesia for the gynecologist 2008
* Associate Member; Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America 2006
* European Association of Gynaecologist and Obstetricians – EAGO
* British Medical Association
* British Gynaecological Psychotherapists
* International Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy – ISGE
* Family Planning Practitioners’ Association
* Medical Director and Proprietor of the Blessings Private Clinic and IVF Unit (1986 – 1990)
* Secretary of the Junior Hospital Doctors of Great Britain (1980 – 1982)
* Ran his own private practice in Harley Street since 1984
* Completed 1st CME cycle of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (1994 – 1998) with 228 points, currently participating in the 3rd cycle (2004 – 2008)
* Member of the London Consultant’s Association
* Fellow of Ghana College of Surgeons 2005

Dr. David Matlock, MD, MBA, FACOG is the inventor of the G-Shot(r) and based in Los Angeles and acted as a guide for Professor Dartey to extend his knowledge of vaginal rejuvenation and labioplasty

What is a G-Spot? (taken from bbc online)
The G-spot is named after Dr. Ernest Grafenberg, who first described it in a 1950 article in the International Journal of Sexology.
For many women, it’s a highly sensitive, highly erotic area that provides hours of pleasure. For others it’s a knobbly bit that, when touched too much, creates an overwhelming sensation of needing a wee.
Some women can’t feel any sensation at all while others don’t seem to have one at all.
There are a number of different theories about what the G-spot or area actually is. One view is that it is an area of prostatic tissue similar to the male prostate. The absence of the Y chromosome in the developing female fetus deposits the cells in a similar location and voila – the G-spot. Complete with a similar type of sensitivity to the male prostate
Another expert agrees with the prostate theory but expands it to say that this is not the only reason for sensitivity. He points to the clitoris and the urethra as other sources of pleasure, both of which can be stimulated via the front wall of the vagina.
Therefore there are a number of erogenous zones and we should stop seeking the elusive g-spot
and instead rename it the ‘anterior wall erogenous complex’ – catchy!
A further expert who was first responsible for publicising the G-spot has recently discovered another use. In research she has shown that stimulation of the G-spot area can increase pain threshold by up to 47%.
If the stimulation is arousing, the pain threshold increases by up to 84% and a massive 107% on orgasm. Her hypothesis is that this sensitive and erogenous area is one of natures natural painkillers for childbirth.

So there you go. Basically, we still don’t know for sure – but the important thing is to find out what you’ve got and what you like”.

So did I want to promote a cosmetic surgery procedure that has no independent, peer reviewed, scientific evidence to indicate it is effective? Did I want to plug a procedure that may, in fact, inhibit sexual arousal? Did I want to publicise an expensive and invasive cosmetic procedure that would need repeating several times per year? Did I want to recommend a ‘treatment’ that is so painless and non-invasive you need to have it under local anaesthetic? Did I want to promote a practitioner who is presented as highly qualified, but apparently relies on BBC online for the scientific evidence to back up their surgery?

No.

I toyed with blogging about the daft message, the largely untested procedure, and the foolishness of a PR company who clearly had worked out I wrote about the g spot, but obviously hadn’t bothered to read what I’d said. And then I thought, nah, why bother giving publicity to something that most reputable clinicians aren’t recommending. I giggled to myself about how stupid this whole thing was. It never occured to me that I ought to approach journalists myself to warn against the procedure – or encourage critical coverage. After all, I reasoned, nobody in their right mind would give this any coverage.

Well I learned the hard way for being so smug. Because the PR company also had approached a lot of newspapers, and they weren’t so critical as I was. They happily gave plenty of glowing and uncritical coverage to the ‘new treatment’. For example:

Coming Soon – Sex Boost Jab – The Sun

Collagen Hits the G Spot – The Telegraph
£800 injection increases the size of women’s g spot – The Mirror

Some of these stories came out on April 1, so you could almost forgive the papers for running them as an April Fool’s story. Perhaps journalists covering this story thought it was a hoax since they clearly didn’t investigate it fully. Only this is no joke.

Here’s what the journalists (some of them health correspondents) should have asked – and what you should ask if you’re considering this procedure.

- The coverage claims that over 87% of women who’d had the G shot experienced enhanced sexual arousal – how was this measured, and who completed this research?
- Has any independent research been completed (and published in a peer reviewed scientific journal) on the effectiveness and safety of the G shot? (as opposed to other gynaecological surgery and collagen)
- Is there anyone, apart from the manufacturer, to support the idea the procedure is effective?
- Is there any data about the long term effects of the procedure?
- Have any adverse reactions to the procedure been observed – if so, what were they?
- What are the long term health implications of having collagen injected into the vagina three times per year?
- What is collagen, and what are the effects of collagen on the body – particularly when injected into the vagina?
- What is the view of established medical practitioners about the procedure (for example the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists?)
- If the treatment is in so much demand, why haven’t women been asking for it on the NHS – and why are we only hearing about it now?
- Why has this procedure been press released now? Might it be anything to do with recent coverage of research about the g spot?
- Why is the clinician promoting the product using a professorial title within their clinical practice? Isn’t it the case that professorial titles belong within academic settings – particularly for medical practitioners?
- The skills of the practitioner are listed, but do independent checks on his career reveal anything further about his competencies?
- Is a procedure that requires anaesthesia something that is simple and non invasive?
- If post-procedure you have a spot that’s now the size of a 10 pence piece and 1/4 inch high does this impact upon things like tampon use or gynaecological examinations?
- Are there any health implications of injecting collagen into the same spot regularly over time?
- The surgical procedure has only been conducted on five women in the UK thus far – is this enough to endorse a clinical intervention with no independent evidence of effectiveness and safety?
- Are all therapists/practitioners/academics in agreement this is a groundbreaking, safe, effective and desirable procedure? If not, what are their concerns – and what implications do these have for the general public?
- Is there any evidence the procedure is anything other than a placebo?
- The treatment is not recommended for women with any underlying sexual problems – how are these women screened and refused treatment – and what advice are they offered to address any problems they may have? Particularly given that most women seeking such a procedure probably will be anxious about their sexual functioning otherwise they wouldn’t be seeking help.
- What are the cost breakdowns for the £800 per injection procedure?
- How many treatments would be recommended during a woman’s lifetime – and what would the total costs of that treatment be?
- How does this procedure fit within wider evidence about medicalising female sexual functioning and creating both an anxiety about female sexual response – and an expensive ‘treatment’ for it?

I have contacted a journalist to highlight these issues, and they may cover the story. Let’s hope so. But in the meantime don’t be a fool like me. Don’t scoff at a press release and assume nobody will take it seriously. The moral of this story is many journalists don’t check what they’re sent and whether or not they take a story seriously, will happily promote anything so long as it sounds sexy and scientific.

The worst thing about this story is it’ll grow and grow. From the breathless press coverage so far you can expect the women’s glossies to pick up on this procedure – after all it costs a packet and is supposed to boost your sex drive – something that will no doubt fit with all current aspirational sex features.

It wasn’t an April Fool. But the joke’s definitely on us.

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