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  4. Drug-free period pain relief brand Ovira told TikTok users their clitoris will 'disappear' if it's not 'used'. Doctors say it's not exactly accurate.

Drug-free period pain relief brand Ovira told TikTok users their clitoris will 'disappear' if it's not 'used'. Doctors say it's not exactly accurate.

Aimee Pearcy   

Drug-free period pain relief brand Ovira told TikTok users their clitoris will 'disappear' if it's not 'used'. Doctors say it's not exactly accurate.
  • A popular period relief brand posted a TikTok warning viewers they could "lose" their clitoris if they don't use it.
  • So far, the video has been viewed over 1.1 million times.

On November 21, the TikTok account for Ovira, a drug-free period pain relief brand, posted a video warning its 5 million followers to use their clitoris "before it disappears." So far, it's been viewed over 1.1 million times.

@alicewillliams ♬ High Fidelity - Alisa Xayalith

The video features a woman overlaid on an image of a grapefruit designed to look like a vulva, warning people: "Use your clitoris before it disappears. If the clitoris is not regularly stimulated, it can lose its function, and this is called clitoral atrophy. It occurs when there is inadequate blood flow to the clitoris, and this can significantly decrease your sex drive. So, make sure to use your clitoris, or you could lose it forever."

The information spread across the internet, but doctors say it's not exactly accurate, and could lead to people panicking unnecessarily.

The viral TikTok doesn't properly explain the condition, according to a doctor

According to Healthline, clitoral atrophy is defined by the clitoris shrinking and no longer responding to stimulation — but it doesn't "disappear."

"It's important to acknowledge that the entire clitoral organ doesn't disappear but the size of it shrinks, retreating back behind the hood, which can make it appear like the clitoris is gone," pelvic physical therapist, Dr. Janelle Howell, a pelvic physical therapist who practices at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, told Insider. "Sometimes the clitoral hood can completely fuse over the head of the clitoris preventing direct stimulation to it, which is referred to as clitoral phimosis."

Clitoral atrophy isn't quite as simple as "use or or lose it" either — it can be caused by several factors. "When clitoral atrophy happens, it usually is a result of not just lack of arousal from sexual activity but an insufficient amount of hormones reaching the clitoris," said Howell.

She added that "prolonged sexual inactivity" can be a contributing factor to clitoral atrophy, "because that's one of the primary ways blood flow is increased to our organs, and the flow of blood is what brings nutrients to the clitoris and surrounding vulvar tissues"

However, she added that menopause, hormone blockers, hormonal birth control, and inflammatory conditions such as lichens sclerosis (a skin condition that causes itchy white patches on the genitals or other parts of the body), can also decrease the amount of testosterone and estrogen reaching the clitoris, and increase the chances of developing clitoral atrophy.

Howell told Insider that her advice to people concerned about clitoral atrophy is to perform vulva checks once a month and consult a doctor if they notice significant changes.

While TikToks about health issues can be beneficial, in cases like this they can also spread misinformation

Despite experts saying Ovira's TikTok doesn't provide the full picture, it seems many viewers took the brand's message at face value.

"IT CAN DISAPPEAR? OH HELL NO" read one top comment on the original video, which has over 23,000 likes.

The video was also shared by actor Lili Reinhart, who responded to the video skeptically, saying in her own TikTok, "There's always something to worry about, huh?" Her video has received over 4.8 million views and over 700,000 likes. (Representatives for Reinhart did not respond to Insider's request for comment.)

@lilireinhart #stitch with @alicewillliams ♬ High Fidelity - Alisa Xayalith

Similar claims also began circulating on Twitter. Four days after the original TikTok was posted, a user by the name of Feminist Witch posted a thread discussing the condition, which received over 1,000 retweets. While she added more context and encouraged users to see a physician if they experienced symptoms, she began with a similar statement to the TikTok video: "Did you guys know that lack of sex for female-bodied persons could lead to the disappearance of the Clitoris?"

Experts have since expressed concern about the over-simplification of the condition. Dr. Karen Tang, a board-certified gynecologist and YouTube and TikTok creator, posted a response explaining the nuances of the condition.

"Don't be scared that if you're having a dry spell, if you don't particularly feel you want to use the clitoris, that you're going to do some irreparable harm to your body," she said in a TikTok video, highlighting that asexual people or those who didn't want to engage in clitoral stimulation shouldn't "panic" that it would automatically lead to clitoral atrophy.

Given that a 2019 survey revealed that half of the women in the UK can't label a vagina on an anatomy chart, there is a strong argument that suggests that online content could help to bridge the knowledge gap in gynecological health. However, Dr. Nsisong Asanga, a physician and field epidemiologist, says that people should be cautious when viewing content created by brands and social media influencers that's designed to get views and stoke engagement.

She told Insider, "We should pay more attention to experts and credible health organizations and less attention to fads and content designed just to go viral. Social media influencers want views, and in most cases, they will do anything to get them. It's best to contact a healthcare provider you trust or trust sources of information that have been medically reviewed."

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