Electronic Org@sm Article

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New Scientist Magazine
February 10, 2001
Push my button

Electronic implants may help women who can't org@sm any other way 

IN THE Woody Allen comedy Sleeper, a machine called an org@smatron
delivers an org@sm at the push of a button--without the hassle of
sex. Now life is imitating art as scientists in the US have
patented an implant that achieves the same effect for women whose
lives have been blighted by an inability to achieve org@sms

Org@smic dysfunction is not uncommon among women, says Julia Cole,
a psychosexual therapist and consultant with Relate, the
relationship counselling service. And a number of issues can cause
it, says Jim Pfaus, who studies the neurobiology of sexual
behaviour at Concordia University in Montreal. "Some women confuse
what's called sympathetic arousal, like increased heart rate,
clammy hands, nerves and so on, with fear," he explains. "That
makes them want to get out of the situation." Psychotherapy is a
common treatment for the condition, although if anxiety is a
factor, patients may also be prescribed valium.  "But valium can
actually delay org@sm," says Pfaus.

Stuart Meloy, a surgeon at Piedmont Anesthesia and Pain Consultants
in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, got the idea for an
org@sm-producing device while performing a routine pain-relief
operation on a woman's spine. "We implant electrodes into the spine
and use electrical pulses to modify the pain signals passing along
the nerves," he says. The patient remains conscious during the
operation to help the surgeon find the best position for the
electrodes. Meloy's breakthrough came one day when he failed to hit
the right spot. "I was placing the electrodes and suddenly the
woman started exclaiming emphatically," he says. "I asked her what
was up and she said, 'You're going to have to teach my husband to
do that'."

Meloy expects clinical trials to begin later this year with
Medtronic, a company based in Minneapolis. Meloy says the
stimulating wires could connect to a signal generator smaller than
a packet of cigarettes implanted under the skin of one of the
patient's buttocks. "Then you'd have a hand-held remote control to
trigger it," he says. "But it's as invasive as a pacemaker, so this
is only for extreme cases," he says.

Meloy believes the device could help couples overcome problems
caused by org@smic dysfunction. "If you've got a couple who've been
together for a while and it's just not happening any more, maybe
they'll get through it a bit easier with this," he says.

He's quick to add that the device will be programmed to limit its
use. "But whether it's once a day, four times a week--who am I to

But would women subject themselves to such invasive surgery? "If
young women of 15 or so are having painful operations to enlarge
their breasts when they don't have to, are you kidding? Of course
it'll be used," says Pfaus. Cole agrees that some women would try
it if they felt the problem was severe enough. "I feel about this
the way I feel about Viagra," says Cole. "It may help some people,
but they should also address the underlying reasons for the

Meloy has yet to test the device on men, but says there's no reason
it shouldn't work in the same way.Ian Sample