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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 19:01 GMT
Orgasms at the push of a button
Couple kissing in the park
Electronic implants could help women who can't orgasm
American scientists have discovered they can create orgasms in women at the touch of a button.

Clinical trials into the new electronic implants are expected to start in the United States later this year.

You're going to have to teach my husband to do that

Female patient
But Stuart Meloy, a pain relief surgeon at Piedmont Anesthesia and Pain Consultants in North Carolina, said his discovery had been a complete chance.

Dr Meloy was performing a routine pain-relief operation on a woman's spine when he made the breakthrough.

"We implant electrodes into the spine and use electrical pulses to modify the pain signals passing along the nerves," he said.

Dr Meloy told New Scientist magazine that patients remained conscious throughout the procedure to help the surgeons decide where best to place the electrodes to maximise pain relief.

Remote control

His discovery came when he failed to hit the right pain-relief spot for a patient.

"I was placing the electrodes and suddenly the woman started exclaiming emphatically," he said. "I asked her what was up and she said, 'You're going to have to teach my husband to do that.'"

Dr Meloy said the stimulating wires could be connected to a signal generator, smaller than a packet of cigarettes, which could be put under the patient's buttocks.

The patient would then be given a hand control to trigger the orgasms. But Dr Meloy said he envisaged the device only being used in the most extreme of cases, to help couples blighted by orgasmic dysfunction.

"If you've got a couple who have been together for a while and it is just not happening any more, maybe they'll get through it a bit easier with this," he said.

Dr Meloy added though that the device would need to be programmed to limit its use.

"But whether it's once a day, four times a week - who am I to say," he said.

Involves surgery

Jim Pfaus, who studies the neurobiology of sexual behaviour at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, said he thought there would be a big demand for the new device despite the fact that it involved 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," he said.

But Julie Cole, a psychosexual therapist and consultant with the UK relationship counselling service Relate, said it was vital the underlying causes for a patient's problems were studied.

She said the new device could have a role for certain groups such as some disabled patients with orgasm problems, but said she remained unconvinced.

"We could see a role for it for people with disability, but I am not convinced about whether it is absolutely necessary," she said.

She added that some women might clutch at this device as a quick fix for their sex problems rather than looking at the psychological problems causing them.

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See also:

04 May 00 | Health
Device to aid female orgasm
19 Nov 99 | Medical notes
Female sexual dysfunction
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