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painful sex, sex, sex myths, skin care

Freezing your genitals at a spa will give you frostbite not better sex

The good people of Twitter alerted me today to the concept of recreational genital cryotherapy. Cryotherapy, for those who may not know, is freezing tissue for medical benefit.

The spa, because that’s EXACTLY the place you would want someone to freeze your vulva or scrotum or wherever is at the The Ainscow Hotel in Manchester, England.

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I can’t believe I have to say this, but just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should. I will follow it up with the corollary that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

We actually use cryotherapy legitimately in gynecology (and other areas of medicine). The most common use in gynecology is to remove warts, but we used to use to treat precancer of the cervix until better therapies came along. I have LOTS of experience with the effects of liquid nitrogen on genital tissue as it was very common practice when I was a resident and I spent a lot of time working in a county clinic and liquid nitrogen is one of the cheaper therapies. I am familiar with using it, the expected complications, and what happens when someone who doesn’t know what they are doing uses it.

When exposed to temperatures of – 20 degrees C or less for a minute or more cells undergo cryonecrosis, i.e. they are killed by the cold. Cryonecrosis causes:

  • extracellular and intracellular crystallization
  • dehydration
  • thermal shock
  • vascular stasis
  • denaturation of proteins

This does not make me thing of rocking good orgasms it makes me think of sloughing tissue, unnatural redness, a big nasty scab, a horrendous vaginal discharge, and delicate new skin. And frostbite, it makes me think of that as well.

Cold is just another way to damage tissue, so in many ways it is like a laser or electrocautery or a chemical peel. You can kill a cell with heat or you can kill it with cold. Regardless, the dead tissue sloughs off and then you get new tissue beneath.  When applied to a wart, which is a very superficial thing, the warts falls off and if you have done it very carefully to minimize tissue damage only a layer or two of cells goes with it.  When we apply cryotherapy to the cervix we go for more freeze/thaw cycles with a slow thaw because a slow that is most lethal to cells and repeated cycles increase the volume of tissue destruction.

So how does this bring pleasure, you ask?

You’ve got me beat and I’m an expert. Cryotherapy will simply cause tissue damage and shedding of cells, how wide and how deep depends on where the probe is applied, how long, and how many free-thaw cycles. The spa advertising 30 minutes with a mist at -160 C. This is a very long time and I’d worry about clitoral necrosis because the clitoris doesn’t do well with reduced blood flow. I’ve heard that’s also not so good for the penis. The experience will be painful because it is frostbite.

According to that reputable medical journal, the Mirror, this is what the Ainscow Spa claims:

When the sub-zero temperature covers the skin, the sudden drop in heat stimulates the temperature receptors, prompting the brain to transmit messages throughout the body so the blood vessels undergo ‘vasoconstriction’.

Sure, that sounds kind of medical and trendy but what they left out is this is just the first step of frostbite. Sounds less sexy that way, huh?

And then:

This produces a quicker blood flow and ramps up endorphin levels, generating a natural high.

I suppose your endorphins do go up because it hurts. Have you every heard anyone say their sexual pleasure went up because of the endorphins released when they had appendicitis? Not all endorphins make you high or horny.

There will be increased blood flow, but that is the body responding to tissue damage and should not be mistaken for the increased blood flow that is part of the sexual response cycle although I can see how someone with less than zero medical training might confuse the two. Blood flow for tissue repair is not arousal or sexual engorgement. It will also go away once the tissue is no longer in need of repair.

Yes, the damaged skin will slough off and new skin will appear. Might it look smoother? Sure, it’s new skin. It might be tighter as well, however, genital tissue is meant to stretch so the impact of this skin tightening on anything but a specific look for a genital selfie is really unknown. Stretchy genital skin is better for sexual function because when genital tissue doesn’t stretch it tears. Stretching is good, tearing is bad. We have lots of experience in gynecology with vulvar and vaginal epithelium that has lost it’s ability to stretch. It can have a terrible effect on sex lives. I’m guessing a penis that can’t stretch as well is also not a good thing.

I’ve seen the effects of too much liquid nitrogen on normal genitals. It’s not pretty and no one ever said it improved their sex lives. The idea that exposing genitals to temperatures of – 160 C for 30 minutes is absolutely ridiculous. It is completely unstudied and potentially dangerous and everything the spa is trying to sell as a health benefit is simply a consequence of frostbite worded to sound like it is someone positive. This idea that tighter genital skin is desirable is very harmful.

Want more blood flow to your genitals? Learn some tantric massage, go to a class on how to give better oral sex, get some sex toys, or get some tips from the book She Comes First.

Do not, however, freeze your genitals.

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Discussion

12 thoughts on “Freezing your genitals at a spa will give you frostbite not better sex

  1. Thank you for clarifying that freezing your genitalia can be dangerous. I am just stunned what people would do or willing to try for pleasure. This is the kind of “alternative facts” that the government should come down hard to shut down.

    Posted by drugopinions | February 18, 2017, 4:20 am
  2. People will do anything to prolong youth and enrich sexual experience so long as it doesn’t involve much effort, i.e., put in the extra running miles to stay in shape…, and they also forget how much romancing a woman (or man) comes from being a passionate character, not merely having the optimal physical tools. One can work their body to perfection, but that endeavor is a solo mission and too much of it really has nothing to do with romance or sex – or in other words: that kind of self-centered mentality can take away from how much you bond with your partner.

    Unless you are both very passionate about running marathons and experimenting with cryotherapy – together as one.

    I am at school finishing a B.S. in chemistry and for part time-work I am a cashier at a local food cooperative. The type of customers who come into the store often like to believe the weirdest things about all natural remedies (the worst is those who confide in the alkaline diet, and believe that our blood is susceptible to rapid pH changes) and it is not as if I am a PhD who knows everything about biochemistry, but I know enough to know how absurd it all is.

    So anyway, point is apparently soaking dried figs in milk overnight is some sort of aphrodisiac. A customer was recently asking if we had dried figs, with this in mind, and yes we do. So anyway he tells me about the milk thing but asks if he can boil the milk to extract the fig compounds and I say Yeeeaaaahhh, go at it. And I tell him about partition coefficients of extraction – that is, 3 extracts of 200 mL each will yield better results than 1 extract of 600 mL. Then he loses interest. He probably started thinking about sex or something.

    Sorry about a rambling story not pertaining much to genitalia or that article. I don’t know much about freezing genitalia nor do I want to try it.

    Posted by Sol the Nav | February 18, 2017, 7:12 am
  3. Reblogged this on things I've read or intend to and commented:
    wow, that’s crazy

    Posted by donesoverydone | February 18, 2017, 3:11 pm
  4. Typography has a lot to answer for. I bet they read something that said going to absolute zero was 100% 0K.

    Posted by Irene | February 18, 2017, 7:52 pm
  5. I hadn’t heard about this latest sex trend, to be honest, and even if I had, I would have thought it ridiculous. The points you make here are extremely informative, I have learnt something new about parts of my own body!

    Posted by namelesspublications | February 19, 2017, 5:41 am
  6. When did ice cubes become lame? I know of an ice cube massage that can be used as aphrodisiac, but this is just insane. The ice cube massage uses ice cubes in a cloth and massages around the genital area, not directly on it. This flash freeze treatment for sexual stimulation is just insane.

    Posted by dmol8 | February 19, 2017, 12:50 pm
  7. As someone not sexually active, I keep reading these “treatments” and “remedies” and “fads” and wonder a few things about those trying it: 1. How often is sex on your mind? and 2. How often have you been having sex, to the point where just being with the one you want is now too boring for you? With all the pop culture, the movies, songs, dumb books, etc that revel in discussing sex like it’s the “end all, be all,” it makes me wonder what all the fuss is about if it’s this damned boring so early in life…hmm…

    Posted by TheChattyIntrovert | February 19, 2017, 8:19 pm
  8. Nice job, as always. I hope they get sued very soon and very publicly for making a false claim (i.e. that it’s safe). One would also think someone would at least consider a trial run on something less sensitive body part — say a finger?

    Posted by anotherdoc | March 8, 2017, 6:41 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Freezing your genitals at a spa will give you frostbite not better sex – BACKER911 NEWS - February 17, 2017

  2. Pingback: The Latest Sex Trend: Spraying Vaporized Liquid Nitrogen on Your Genitals | Heat Street - February 18, 2017

  3. Pingback: Doctors Are Warning Against ‘Painful’ And Bizarre Sex Trend – SmileBuzz.net - February 20, 2017

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