Love & Sex

The Instant Orgasm Device Can’t Get Funding and That’s a Good Thing

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There's no remote control to get you off.

Last month, news sources everywhere were abuzz with tales of the "Orgasmatron," the first ever pleasure-inducing spinal implant, a supposed panacea for sexual dysfunction. Orgasms at the push of a button! What an amazing party trick! But for skeptics among us, the Orgasmatron might seem a little too good to be true, and for the meantime, it will remain so.

Stuart Meloy, a surgeon at Piedmont Anesthesia and Pain Consultants stumbled upon this so-called Orgasmatron in much the same way that other sexual dysfunction medicines, like Viagra, have been discovered — by attempting to cure something else entirely.  In 2001, he was developing an electronic implant for those who suffer from chronic pain, only to find that after one installation, one patient reported intensely pleasurable climax-like sensations. Coming right out of Woody Allen's The Sleeper, the device, which is slightly smaller than a pack of cigarettes, sends electrical impulses to electrical nodes on the spine. In short, it's a remote control to make you come.

Cultural regurgitator Reddit found this bit of scientific ephemera from 2001 and republished it last month, causing the epic media frenzy around the potential release of such an unprecedented device. But the Orgasmatron, which involves a a patient remaining awake during the implantation procedure, while stimulating a few individuals in pre-trials, is about just as invasive as a pacemaker. In other words, only people with seriously troublesome sexual dysfunction (and those people do exist) should even consider getting this orgasm-trigger. Coupled with the fact that the Orgasmatron's generators cost $25,000 each, insurance companies do not cover experimental procedures, and there has yet to be any proof that the Orgasmatron actually treats anorgasmia, the search for a cure-all has become that much more problematic. In fact, in the 2011 documentary Orgasm Inc., one woman was fitted with the device, only to be direly disappointed as the Orgasmatron left her as orgasmless (and in serious back pain) as ever.

In order to get approval for a pivotal trial from the FDA, Meloy needed to get together over $6 million. It was recently announced that for now, that's just not possible. While the press wants to do cartwheels imagining instant orgasms for men and women as a simple procedure, the truth is, nobody wants to pay up. And that may be a good thing.

The zeitgeist that the Orgasmatron springs from is one that allows for very little understanding of the complex animal that is the female orgasm and those who can't reach one. We always hear sky-high statistics like 43 percent of women suffer from sexual dysfunction, but that skewed stat neglects the fact that most women don't orgasm from just intercourse. Instant orgasm devices also ignore other real-life sex factors: sex can be rewarding without a climax, sometimes emotional and pharmaceutical reasons are behind sexual dysfunction, and a lot of couples simply aren't having enough no-bullshit talks about what gets them off. Before men and women surrender to the idea that a dangerous implant is the only solution to their lackluster sex lives, they should recognize that most women are, in fact, naturally born with a numerous "orgasm buttons." We just need to start talking about where we like to be pressed.

Image via Veer.