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Wanted: people to test orgasmatron

WOMEN who cannot have orgasms can now have a device implanted in their spines that will trigger the sensation for them. Clinical trials of the "orgasmatron" have begun in the US, with the approval of the Food and Drug Administration.

The device was the focus of massive media attention two years ago, after New Scientist broke the news of its existence and used the term orgasmatron to describe it (10 February 2001, p 23).But despite all the coverage, few people are volunteering for the trial. "I thought people would be beating my door down to become part of the trial," says Stuart Meloy, the surgeon who patented the treatment. "But so far I am struggling to find people." That does not surprise some experts, who think an implant is too radical a treatment for sexual problems. "Why would you do it invasively if you can do it with a vibrator?" asks Marca Sipski of the University of Miami, who studies sexual function in women with spinal cord injuries.

Only one woman has completed the first stage of the trial, and one other is now being signed up. Meloy hopes to find eight more to complete the first stage of the study, in which wires connected to a battery pack are inserted through the skin and into the woman's spinal cord.

The procedure is no riskier than an epidural, Meloy says. But epidurals can cause complications such as backache in up to a fifth of women. In the second stage, a self-contained device resembling a pacemaker will be implanted beneath the skin, switched on and off with a remote control.

Meloy, a pain specialist at Piedmont Anesthesia and Pain Consultants in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, stumbled on the idea while performing a routine pain-relief operation on a woman. During this procedure,two electrodes are inserted in the patient's spine and tiny pulses of electricity are applied. Patients are kept conscious throughout the operation so that they can say when they feel less pain. During one such operation, the patien
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Contact: Claire Bowles
claire.bowles@rbi.co.uk
44-207-331-2751
New Scientist
26-Nov-2003


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