Why Are People Injecting Saline Into Their Junk?
Last summer, after years of toying with the idea, strangecares, a sex worker who uses a pseudonym, decided to inflate their labia with saline. After scouring the web for more information, they bought two 250-milliliter bags of isotonic saline, an IV administration set for each bag and butterfly needles with tubing attached, they explained in a blog post.
Within a few hours, they achieved the temporarily squishy, oversized labia of their dreams, which they filmed for a series of horny, premium content.
This isn't a new practice, but there's scarce research to back it up. Kinky folks have injected their scrotums and labia with saline for decades, their goal being to achieve plump, jiggly junk. It's a kink known commonly as inflation, which generally falls under the wide umbrella of medical fetish, but some people seek it out for body modification reasons, too.
"I'm not quite sure what my first exposure was," strangecares said. "I had been aware of scrotal saline infusion for quite a long time, and occasionally saw labia and breasts done, as well. It was several years before I got around to trying it, in part because I was gathering more information; in part because I tend to always have a long list of new things I want to try; and in part because I wanted to wait until after a serious saline shortage had passed before using it recreationally."
Research and information are hard to find
Gathering information on safe labial inflation is far from easy. The handful of resources that exist online are usually compiled by kinky folks, and they're usually geared toward scrotums.
In 2003, a bemused researcher came across the practice of scrotal inflation and recorded it in an article in the Southern Medical Journal. The author described a patient who presented with scrotal cellulitis as a complication of infusing 900 milliliters (ml) of saline into his scrotum, and hinted it was a common practice. Despite the supposed popularity of scrotal inflation, there was virtually no information in the medical literature, the author wrote.
Dulcinea Alex Pitagora, Ph.D., a New York-based psychotherapist and sex therapist known as the "Kink Doctor," gave various reasons for the absence of labial saline inflation in existing research. We live in a phallocentric society, so it's not hard to imagine where the desire for huge, swinging balls comes from. When it comes to labia, however, Pitagora explained: "The most common body modifications are towards smaller labia and vaginal opening. That's not to say there aren't plenty of people with labia who enjoy labial inflation, but it's much less visible and probably less common."
Labial inflation wouldn't be a total surprise, after all, there are plenty of folks out there who use testosterone to grow their clits.
As for the appeal, there are various reasons. The first is tied to growth kinks more generally, or the delight at seeing part of your body become oversized. The second is tied to power exchange: If you're going to a kink professional to get injected, there's something thrilling about handing over that authority, Pitagora explained.
What do we know about performing genital saline inflation safely?
In essence, we don't know much about safety precautions. Arguably the closest thing to official medical guidance comes from a 2006 article in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections that examined the case of a 52-year-old man with acute scrotal cellulitis. A regular inflation fetishist, he injected a whopping 2.5 liters of saline into his sack over the course of two hours, yet the swelling still hadn't disappeared after more than three days. A week of medication resolved the cellulitis.
When self-injecting, there's a lot to bear in mind: Extensive sterilization is required, and there's a risk of nerve damage when shooting up your scrotum.
These home experiments can be risky. In 1997, an anonymous writer mistakenly thought scrotal inflation would increase the size of his penis and decided to document his quest for inflated junk.
"I began to notice a dull burning sensation inside my scrotum," he wrote of his first attempt, which involved 250 ml of saline. "It wasn't painful, but it was unlike anything I'd felt before."
Next, he tried 400 ml, which made his scrotum "enormous, perhaps the size of a grapefruit." Here, he felt concerned. The next morning, his testicles had swelled, but the size of his penis remained unchanged. The third and final experiment saw him edge up to 750 ml, which caused a sharp pain that "circled his scrotum and seemed to be moving back to my anus."
As for strangecares, they told me their infusion process was somewhat painful, and they experienced some "unusual sensation of pressure and temperature because my saline was room temperature rather than warmed to body temperature." Mostly though, they found the process boring and time-consuming, although they were fascinated and amused by the resulting "squish and jiggle" of their pumped-up labia.
These stories offer some indication of what to expect––as well as how much saline to use––but there's extremely limited research on how to pull off safe at-home injections.
"This is often something people go to a professional dominant to try out rather than something people try with their partner in the bedroom," strangecares explained.
There are some dommes that specialize in medical fetish, and body-mod professionals can carry out these procedures, too.
Given the risk of scrotal cellulitis, inflammation, gangrene, lasting swelling and nerve damage, it's definitely worth researching genital saline inflation before giving it a go.
There are other, safer ways to achieve the aesthetic satisfaction of an inflation kink. Catherine Duffy, the 34-year-old founder of kink education site Whoreuro, is a long-term fan of pumps.
"A good p---y pump can engorge your labia so much that it feels like you have two hands welcoming anyone between your legs," she said.
Inflation is part of the appeal, but Duffy outlined that pumps are meant to increase pleasure and sensitivity. Use plenty of lube, go slowly and you'll achieve the desired result. In her eyes, it's a less stressful option than labial saline injection.
"I know a few girls who do it, but it's not for me because I have a tremendous fear of needles," she said. "In my opinion, using a p---y pump is basically the same effect as using saline, but it doesn't come with the stress and the responsibilities—avoiding infection and seriously needing to know what you're doing—that saline does."