Nory: So, Dr. Runels, let’s begin by you telling our readers a little bit about your medical background and anything else you’d like to share with them.
Dr. Runels: As far as my background as a scientist and a physician, I had a strong math interest and worked for three years as a research chemist, and then I went to medical school and wound up doing emergency medicine for 10 years or so, 12 depending on when you want to start counting. My boards were in internal medicine, so I started doing some research and opened a practice, did some research with hormone replacement, so 18 years ago, before Suzanne Somers wrote her first book I was doing testosterone pellets and did some research projects with growth hormone. That’s what made me in tune with women’s sexuality. I didn’t set out to be a sex doctor. I set out to take very good care of women as a physician.
I don’t really even like the word. I don’t like when people say that’s “alternative medicine.” This isn’t alternative medicine. This is medicine that looks for what works, and if it happens to be something not in a bottle that you buy at the pharmacy that doesn’t make it alternative. So, if I’m using, say, nutrition, how is it that two milligrams of medicine can be more powerful than the pounds of food that you put in your body? Or, if I’m using exercise or if I’m using your blood in the case of these procedures, if I’m using things that are backed up by research, like walking three miles a day has been proven to do more for your heart and your blood pressure and your risk of heart attack than any drug on the market, including blood pressure and diabetes drugs. So, that’s not alternative, that’s science.
So, anyway, I have a strong science background and I was doing research, but I also had a background, i used to work as a trainer at the YMCA, so I understood physiology and exercise from a personal standpoint and from coaching a lot of people back in my college days as an exercise guru sort of guy. So, all those things sort of meshed together and as I was taking care of women in the most excellent way I could think of, using science, but not always medicine. I’m not anti medicine, but using science and hormone replacement all of a sudden I had a flood of women 18 years ago realizing that somehow they were getting better and their friends were getting much better than what was being done down the road by what was done for women 20 years ago which was just Premarin, basically, don’t do any blood tests, throw a little estrogen at you and hope that your hot flashes go away.
So, that’s sort of how I got to where I am as far as being attuned to women’s sexuality because they would come crying to me about what was happening with their life, and you can’t do their hormone replacement, in my opinion you can’t take care of people well unless of think of endocrinology and you can’t do endocrinology and hormones without asking questions about sex. It turns out that those questions I was comfortable asking about sex were unusual, and I didn’t know it at the time but most doctors are afraid to talk about sex. They don’t want to talk about sex. And research shows that if a woman asks their doctor about sex, which most of them never do, only 14% ever ask their doctor a question about sex, even though half of them have problems, research shows that the doctor will change the subject after answering the first question over half the time.
So, I didn’t realize I was being unusual in listening and trying to heal the relationships when women would come crying and say, I love my husband so much but I’m afraid to tell him that I’m having pain when we have sex or that I’m not aroused, because I love him and I don’t want to tell him, I don’t want to hurt his feelings. And they’ve never told their doctor, their husband, or their preacher or their best friend.
So, that’s sort of the quick version of how I got to be the guy that’s now … has done research in this area and working with a couple thousand doctors in 50 countries.
Nory: What gave you the idea for the O-Shot®?
Dr. Runels: The O-Shot® was a sort of a coming together of ideas, one, with the research background as a chemist I was already into instrumentation. I actually did some work, one time considered becoming a biochemical engineer, not a biochem but a medical engineer, designing instrumentation. So the centrifuge has fascinated me. I ran a wound care center at a hospital nearby when I was a [inaudible 00:04:51] so I was into healing of wounds. Then I had the women crying about their sexuality and I had an injection practice because I found that women oftentimes want to quit losing weight, because when they lose the weight in their face their wrinkles start to show up more. So I had made myself an expert at cosmetic injections, not just for the benefit of that but to help encourage women to continue to lose weight with me when I got their metabolism right.
So, now you got wound care, injections, and all those things come together, and I thought, oh, wow, what if you took this technology where you’re using platelet rich plasma and heal tissue and I pulled it over and used it in this arena where women have problems with pain or sensation or function of the genitourinary space. So, that’s kind of how it all came together.
Nory: I read a story about the Priapus Shot® and feel free to tell this or not, and we don’t need to include it in the interview but I sort of remember that you had a partner, wife or a girlfriend who said, hey what about me?
Dr. Runels: I gave you the short version. So I’ll fill in the blanks. So, when I was first introduced to platelet-rich plasma someone was telling me … because I was doing cosmetic injections, use it like Juvederm in the face, you get new volume, new blood flow, and there’s never been a documented side effect, serious. So, to this day there’s still with over 9,000 research papers, now getting to Priapus or the penis shot, but there’s never been, in 9,000 published research papers one serious side effect from platelet-rich plasma, as in no infections, no necrosis, no neoplasia, no granulomas. But you get new blood flow. It’s been documented in multiple biopsy studies you get new blood flow, you get healing, all the [inaudible 00:06:47] regulation hyperimmune status and other things.
So, when he told me that, new volume and new blood flow, I thought, well, I’ve got a better place than my face for a new volume and blood flow, thinking like a man. So, I thought I’m going to do things with the face before I try this in my penis. So, for four months I injected faces and I watched and yeah, people would come back and their face would be glowing, and they would tell me their friends and family were saying their face was glowing. So I thought, okay, let’s try it. It took me a while to get up my courage because I thought when it makes this matrix, which it forms a yellow goo like surrounding a scab, when the matrix forms, that goo forms, that’s what holds the growth factors in place. But if that’s in a wound say, on your hand, you’ve got blood flow coming from beneath so it’s not a big problem. I was thinking if that goo formed inside a penis it may cause necrosis or cause something bad to happen, maybe an erection that won’t go away or priapism or something.
But I tried it and it worked. It seemed that it was helping a little bit with size and a little bit with erection and some of my patients, a lot. So, I had been doing that for a few months, and following the other part, because I actually, to this day, take care of more women than men. I was doing this for selfish reasons, thinking how to make things better for men, and I thought shoot, if I could make it to where the average man could grow his penis a half an inch I’ll get my picture on a postage stamp.
Three Categories of Women Who Suffer with Sexual Dysfunction
So, I’m working on that but I’m still mostly taking care of women, and I have a heart for women and actually part of what led to me taking care of the men is that, when I would get women happy and make them … take a woman who’s 40 pounds overweight, she’s 40 years old, she feels tired and her sex drive is low. When she loses the weight and her sex drive is high and she can think well again, three things could happen. I got to where I could almost tell when the woman walked in the room, which of the three it is.
Okay, picture that woman. If she’s got a lover who’s kind to her, who’s healthy, who has a good sex drive, they could live happily ever after, there’s nothing left for me to do. If she’s got a lover who’s been abusive to her because she’s been overweight and low self esteem and now she gets her sex drive back, she’s out the door, there’s probably nothing I should try to do. I don’t know, but there’s probably nothing I can do because she’s been kind of under the thumb and now that she’s got her sex drive and her health back she’s gone.
The thing that bothered me was the third category, and that’s the woman who comes in and she loves her husband and he’s not well. Now, you make her well, she’s got a sex drive, and the man or woman that she loves can’t keep up with her. Now you got a problem, because they love each other and you’ve created a mismatch that’s causing a conflict. That bothered me. So, for that reason I made myself an expert at men’s sexuality.
I’m working on that part of it but I have been following what has been done for injecting around the urethra. That’s been done for the past 15 years, with collagen, with hyaluronic acid fillers, with collagen, with hyaluronic acid fillers, with, it’s really what you’re doing with the sling. It’s just a way of changing the contour of that area with some of the surgeries. So, finally I had this girlfriend at the time, who said, “Hey, I want to try that.” So I said, “Okay, let’s try it.” And the first 24 hours she was so, I mean, she was always a good, she always enjoyed sex, but she became really almost like she was on some sort of drug. If you think about it, drugs are, you know the only bad thing about drugs is that they make you sick, they get you put in jail, but what if you had a drug that was legal, that made you happy, and wasn’t going to put you in jail? That’d be a good thing.
You could say running becomes a drug like that for some people. The endorphins from running. So all of a sudden, here’s something I’ve done that in theory should make her body healthier, but it was like a sex drug to her. So I thought, and she was just insatiable for about the first 48 hours, so I thought, I should try this with some people that have problems, because it makes sense it should work. So the first woman I treated after my lover had been abused by her ex-husband in the genitalia. She was scarred in the vagina and the anus to the point where she couldn’t have relations without horrible pain, so she came over on her lunch hour and I treated her and a few months later she was literally engaged to an old high school lover because the pain was gone, and something that took me 30 minutes on her lunch hour just changed her life.
She’s the one who actually said, “Hey, this has made my incontinence go away. I’ve lost weight because I’m running again.” I thought, ‘Well Josh should’ve thought of that.’ So my patients, the people, the women and men who’ve trusted me are really the people who are responsible for this coming about, because they trusted me enough to let me do what the science said should work. Again, [play the 00:12:02] words, plasmids, that’s been researched for the past 15 years for wound healing, but using in that space was a new idea and the people who loved me and trusted me enough to do that were really the ones who taught me the procedure.
I had an old teacher that told me, he said, “You know, if you want the best textbook, it’s not the textbook, it’s the patients you’re taking care of.” And my patients, if you’re writing the textbook, then you’re writing it from what your patients are teaching you, and that’s what’s happened with me.
(Chapter 15 introduces the O-Shot® Procedure & is Written by Dr. Runels)
Nory: You know, it’s just a beautiful philosophy and your humbleness is, tells me a lot about you.
Dr. Runels: Well, I don’t know, it’s really, there’s really no, I don’t know if you can call it humble when there’s really nothing that I can claim, except maybe tenacious, being tenacious. Because you know, I didn’t go make this brain, I came with it, and I, the people who’ve been around me gifted me with their trust, but it’s kind of you to say. But I still think most of what we have is a gift from somewhere, wherever you decide that’s from is your philosophy, but I feel like most of the good things we have are gifts. Then we decide if we’re going to take care of them or not. That’s kinda how it works.
Nory: You know, Erin told me, this is a little off subject and we don’t need to include it in the video if you don’t want, but she called you a ‘transcendentalist.’
Dr. Runels: Oh, I don’t, I’m not even sure I’m ‘good,’ but I think that … Emerson had it right when he said really our goal in life should be to be a perfect pipe. But the pipe becomes most useful when it becomes as empty as possible. I don’t know what that makes me; maybe just makes me an Emerson fan, but that’s kinda my goal.
Nory: Well I come from a Unitarian Universalist background so I just said, “He’s close to my heart.”
Dr. Runels: Yeah, he’s an amazing guy. I think he came pretty close to being an empty pipe, didn’t he? Or clean pipe.
Nory: Getting back to our interview, I think you’ve answered a lot about how your women patients’ problems impact their lives, but I’m curious to know, besides the O-Shot® and the nutritional supplements and the hormonal supplements and the other [techniques 00:14:43] you use with them, do you use any other technologies besides the O-Shot®?
Dr. Runels: … The things that can go wrong with sexual function really almost cover almost everything that can go wrong with the body. Sexual function is, I consider it like the cherry on the top of good health. For example, if someone’s depressed, for whatever reason; hypothyroidism, tragedy, whatever it is, sex drive’s gone. If someone’s in pain, for whatever reason, there’s no sex drive. If someone’s got a fever. The sex drive, in my opinion, it can be faked, it can be maybe become artificial through some drug like cocaine or whatever, or maybe through someone being drunk or high or something, but true, healthy sex drive evolves out of many things that have to do with good health, good relationships, good connections. The best, even on a spiritual plane.
So as far as, when you say ‘what other modalities would I use?’ Let’s just take, for example, a problem like can’t have an orgasm. That could be low testosterone, and in that case they need testosterone. It could be pain because they’ve got a scar from having a big baby and they’re associating sex with pain, so that’s not gonna lead to orgasm. In that case the O-Shot® may help. It may be decreased sensation in which the O-Shot® might help. Maybe from previous surgery or childbirth. It could be they’re recoiling from sex because they were abused at some point. At which point sexual therapy might help or some other form of family counseling.
So I like to think of the O-Shot® as a tool, and when the dysfunction involves any sort of dysfunction of the tissue of the genitalia, then that tool comes into play. Now, there’s this dichotomy of thought, and I think you can tell I respect the idea. I mean, I’m a big fan of Erickson as well, I respect the idea that the mind is very powerful …
and can do things that we’re probably very not close to understanding at this point, but the idea to try to cure something with therapy that might be made better with something, a physical thing, seems to me like taking things … Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson, ‘I always grab things by the smooth handle.’ The smooth handle is not always therapy. But sometimes it is THE handle. So, for example, if someone has, back to that example, if someone has trouble with orgasm and they have the pain from intercourse, sending them to therapy is not the right thing. I like to think of it like a system. On the other hand, if they were abused and their genitalia is working normally, the O-Shot® is not the right thing.
I’ve been in situations where the therapist somehow had the impression that I thought I had a magic shot that makes everything better. I don’t, but on the other hand I don’t think therapy necessarily makes everything better either. I like to think of it as a system, and it’s a very complex system. For example, we think of a respiratory system, and if you said you’re short of breath, that could be because you’re anemic. It may not have anything to do with your, if you’re profoundly anemic because you’re, whatever, you’ve had colon cancer for the past 20 years or 5 years and you, without anyone knowing it, your red cell count is low, you can’t carry oxygen, so you’re short of breath because you’re anemic. Where another person it may be bronchoconstriction. So one person needs a blood transfusion and iron and a colonoscopy, and the other person needs a bronchodilator.
I think because, again, because of these archaic, almost Middle-Age attitudes that it’s not okay to take care of a vagina, it’s not even okay to say the word ‘rejuvenation’ in the same sentence with the vagina, even though it’s okay to say it with a face, it’s okay to ‘rejuvenate your face,’ but let me talk about ‘rejuvenating your vagina’ and somehow I’m doing something ethically wrong, that’s just archaic. In my opinion.
To avoid that sort of ‘I’ve got a hammer so everything’s a nail’ mentality, I like to think of a system. You can have a respiratory system but I think because of that archaic thinking, no one’s ever said, “Hey, let’s think of an orgasm system.” It’s a pretty complicated thing, and it involves having … Let’s talk about the respiratory system; the nervous system has to be working, sending the signals to breathe, which can be changed by lots of things. You have to have … Bronchials have to be the right diameter. You have to have the right amount of red cells flowing through your blood stream. A lot of things have to do with respiration.
In the respiratory system, you have a neurovascular system, a nervous system, and endocrine system, and the reason we think about systems is because it emphasizes the interplay of lots of different components, and there in my opinion, there’s an orgasm system. Testosterone has to be high enough, prolactin has to be low enough, you need a little dab of estrogen for some carrying, probably need a little bit of oxytocin for some love in there. At the same time you need to have sensation. You need to be conscious, you need to be not in pain. You need to have the right serotonin and dopamine, mill you and your brain to have libido. You get it. There’s this whole complicated system, and all the O-Shot® does, all it does is make the tissue, that part, those receptors, and the functionality of the genitalia more healthy. That’s all it does.
Orgasm & Spirals Up & Spirals Down
Having said that, it can have profound effects on all of it because we were taught … I was taught in medical school, this is how sexuality works. You have arousal, then you have a plateau, then you have an orgasm, then you have a refractory period. There’s this up, flat, and then down like that. It’s actually much more complicated than that, especially for women. With men, maybe we’re more simple minded. I feel pretty sure we are, actually. What we know for sure, that women are much more sex machines. How many men can have five orgasms back to back to back, with no refractory period? That’s not so uncommon for a woman. How many men feel energized after an orgasm? Very common for a woman.
There seems to be, no matter what you want to say the cause of it, there seems to be a different … I can talk to you a few hours about what I think it is, and what’s going on there, but there seems to be a different reaction to sex. That’s just the orgasm part. That’s not even counting all the rest of it. What I’m getting to, and how the O-Shot® may affect multiple components, including the psychological … If a woman, there’s a spiral and it go up and down, if a woman has arousal, and then she has sex, and then it’s a bad experience, she’s … For whatever reason. We can think of lots of horrible reasons it might be bad. But, it’s a bad experience for her. Then, she doesn’t go back to baseline. She’s at a level now to where it’s more difficult to even become aroused.
Let’s say she tries again, and it’s another bad experience. She’s spiraling down. I think there’s some women that are spiraled so far down because of abuse, and they attempt something with a lover and maybe they’re abused again, or something bad happens, and they’re so down, they just spiraled, spiraled down. Now, the other side of that, someone becomes aroused, a woman, and she has an encounter and she’s … It’s glorious for her. She’s respected, she’s loved. She has this beautiful experience. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. Now, when it’s time for possible sex again, she’s at a different state. She’s more easily aroused and there’s a spiral up.
That spiral up and down, that’s not my idea. That was actually presented, and its been talked about for a few years in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, and other places. What might be new is that, I think it’s possible, that in some women my O-Shot® can help break the trend down. Or maybe help accelerate the trend up. For sure, I’ve seen it in women who have pain, break the trend down. We do the procedure, and then I have some techniques that I tell them to do so that they can test the waters, so to speak, on their own. Then they find, “Oh. Maybe I’m not having pain.” Maybe they tentatively have sex with their lover and, “Oh. Wow. I didn’t have pain.” That doesn’t mean they’re not still worried about it, but they spiraled up a notch.
The next time they’re not as tentative. There are … Maybe that might apply, in even cases that don’t have to do with pain. I think we’re seeing our shot affect other areas because of that complicated system. It triggers other things in the mechanism. It’s still not a magic shot.
Nory: Remarkably complex. Remarkably complex, the woman’s … The whole ethos. Not just her sexual response, but all that goes into making that ability to orgasm, or not. You’re painting a very much bigger picture for me than I had had.
Dr. Runels: I think it’s really … It’s very … Prideful for us to think we have a deep understanding. Even when you expand it this broad, for example, we know that if you have a massage, your oxytocin level goes up. It makes people more open to pleasure. Oxytocin’s a small peptide chain made by the pituitary gland, which is attached to the brain. You might as well say it’s part of the brain. There are over 200, that’s 2 with 2 zero’s behind it, peptides made by the pituitary gland. When we do some extensive blood tests, we get 20 blood values back. Oxytocin, DHEA, free and total testosterone, on and on and on. Still, just Kindergarten compared with what’s going on up there.
The idea that you might push one button and it affects 10 other things … For a simplistic example, if I raise your growth hormone level because you’ve had brain trauma and it’s low, it’s going to lower your thyroid level. If I raise your testosterone level, it’s going to lower your thyroid bonding globulin, and you’ll have more thyroid because I gave you testosterone. It will probably also increase your insulin like growth factor I, or your Somatomedin C because you’ll probably create more growth hormone. That’s just one example, of one hormone affecting two others.
Who knows what’s happening with the other 200. That pituitary gland, remember, is attached to your brain. When you get fearful, and your heart rate goes up, it’s because your cortex said, “Hey. I’m afraid.” And your pituitary gland spat out some stuff that told your adrenal glands to release some stuff. It all started up here. I don’t mean to say that what’s going on up here is not important. I think it’s extremely important. I do think there are ways to push buttons, whether it’s hormonally or physically with our O-Shot® that have rippling effects throughout the whole system that can be beneficial.
Nory: That seems like a pretty good place to conclude the interview. I know that you’re a little pressed for time.
Dr. Runels: I was honored to speak with you, Nory. I commend you … I know we had some conversations earlier, so before we wrap it up I just want to commend you for having the courage to, one, talk about sex, because it’s a courageous thing to do. Just bringing … Broaching the topic will bring criticism, even to healthcare people like ourselves. Whether it be writers, therapists, doctors, doesn’t matter. When people broach the subject of sex, there becomes a recoil that you can’t even run … I’ve been banned from Facebook. You can’t run an ad, even if it’s bringing people to something that’s a medical procedure. I can’t … My Facebook ads have been banned because I talk about sex.
It’s troublesome that there’s this idea that … As we spoke earlier, there’s somethings that people can have go wrong, and they invite the utmost sympathy from everyone. You can have the flu, and people want you to get well, and you let them know without hesitation. They send you get well cards, or you can have cancer. Try getting schizophrenia. Or bipolar disease. And even though those are chemical imbalances, that it’s not fault of the person, there’s no reason to be ashamed of it, nevertheless, there’s … Continuing, we’re not in the … This is not the middle ages where we should be saying these people are witches or something, or they’re possessed with the devil, but it’s a chemical balance. They shouldn’t have to be ashamed of it, but they are.
Many of them are. And they’re … In the same way, sexual problems, you won’t see anybody posting to Facebook. They might post they got the flu, or they broke their arm, come sign my cast. You aren’t going to see anybody post to Facebook, “Oh. I’ve got painful intercourse. Would you pray for me today.” Or, “I couldn’t have an orgasm last night with my husband. Would you give me a prayer?” Have you ever seen that on Facebook? You’ll see broken arms all day long. And it’s because there’s a social stigma for it. But yet, that same thing, is so critical … Emerson said sex and beauty is the … He actually just said beauty, but I throw in the sex part, because I think that was his generic way of saying sex. But he said beauty was the scaffolding of love.
Yeah, you may reach a place where you don’t need the scaffold, but I think most mortals need the scaffold to build a relationship. That’s why I think more younger women, and older women complain. That’s my long way of bragging on you, for you having the courage to talk about this. I’m happy to wrap it up, but it should go through this. If there are other questions that you get from your readers, or that just occur to you, we’ll do Volume II. Anytime you want. Or III or IV.
Nory: You know, this was amazing. I didn’t expect … I was not expecting the depth. It was not what I asked for, but it was beautiful.
Dr. Runels: Thank you.
Nory: I feel way more optimistic I think, than you. Honestly, I do. I feel very optimistic. And I’m waiting for those bullets that you say are coming, those arrows. I know it would probably feel really good to you, to punch some people who have those attitudes about vaginal rejuvenation. Would you like … Would you appreciate the opportunity to write a forward for my book? A short one, that does a little of that punching back?
Dr. Runels: Yes. I would love to write you a forward. The answer to that is yes. I would love to write a forward. As far as my, the way I visualize it, I see it more as … When I was working in the ER, if someone came in just drunk and stupid, because of some drug they were on, and they would often try to hurt me. My goal is not really to punch back, it was just to control them from hurting anybody until they got their brain back. I look at these people, they’re just so blinded by … It’s crazy to me.
I’ll meet them in a thing and they’ll say, “When you publish some research, then I’ll start doing this.” I’ll say, “Well, you know we’ve already published five papers. And there’s 9,000 papers about PRP. Have you read any of them? Or are you reading Marvel comics? What are you reading?” You’re not reading any of this if you’re reading Superman and Revenger. It’s so funny to me that we’re … That’s the way I look at it. It’s not really punching back, as much as it is … Anticipating their daggers, and building the intellectual shields to neutralize it until they get their brain back.
Nory: No. No. You’re so nice. You’re so nice, and I’m so grateful. I can’t tell you.
Dr. Runels: All right. So, let’s do this thing. I look forward to talking again, and I’ll make this recording where you can take whatever you want and share it.
Nory: You are the best. Please give my regards to Erin. She’s wonderful, too.
Dr. Runels: Thank you, Nory. Goodbye