Wednesday, 26 November, 2003
A scientist claiming to have invented a device which produces orgasms at the touch of a button can't find women to help him conduct trials into it.
The implant, inserted under the skin at the base of the spine, triggers a reflex response to produce sensation.
Dr Stuart Meloy, from North Carolina, told New Scientist: "I thought people would be beating my door down."
However, British experts said that a surgical implant was not an appropriate answer to women's sexual problems.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved trials of the device, but this cannot go ahead until enough volunteers have been found.
Dr Meloy - originally a pain specialist - stumbled on the concept when he inserted a pacemaker-like device under the skin in a bid to alleviate severe back pain in a patient.
The pronounced side-effects of the electrical current it delivered prompted him to diversify into a different field of research.
He patented the idea of using the technique to treat female sexual dysfunction.
The device works because of a natural reflex in the body which produces an orgasm.
Dr Meloy told New Scientist magazine: "I don't see it any differently from procedures such as breast implants.
"But so far I am struggling to find people."
However, doctors and psychosexual counsellors lined up to suggest other avenues for women with sexual difficulties.
Sarah Creighton, a consultant gynaecologist at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in London, told BBC News Online that the device would possibly be unnecessarily invasive.
She said: "Female sexual dysfunction is so poorly understood, and it is likely there is a big psychological component in many cases.
"It would be a surgical procedure to fit an implant, but sexual dysfunction is not just about not being able to have orgasms - women complain about lack of interest in sex, lack of lubrication and lack of sensation."
Glyn Hudson Allez, a psychosexual counsellor from Bristol, said that while there was likely to be a demand for such a "quick fix", the result might still be unsatisfactory for women.
She said: "When they tried to find a 'pink' version of Viagra, they found it didn't work as well as in men.
"This is because sexual dysfunction can be far more complex in women than it is in men.
"What worries me is that it may be male pressure on women which prompts them to seek this kind of solution out.
"But there will always be demand for this kind of thing."
It is likely that the device, if it is shown to work by studies, would
cost several thousands of pounds.
Copyright © 2003, BBC