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Wed Nov 28, 2012, 10:13 AM

The Nasal Spray Created to Bring Women Orgasms


The American Psychiatric Association regards Female Orgasmic Disorder as an official diagnosis. It's in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, defined as a situation in which a woman is experiencing stress because her "orgasmic capacity is less than would be reasonable for her age, sexual experience, and the adequacy of the sexual simulation she receives."

No matter how the notion of Female Orgasmic Disorder strikes you, someone thinks your opinion is sexist. How we classify and name the aforementioned hypo-orgasmic scenario is passionately, hotly contested. To deny its medical validity is to deny women's right to sexual prosperity; to support it is to put undue onus and the stigma of a "disorder" on women who aren't having orgasms. Both sides believe it affects how we regard and treat women and these symptoms. That's why a nasal-spray called Tefina (in development in Australia and Canada; just approved for phase two trials by Health Canada) designed to treat the condition -- which could initially seem like a win-win-win-win-win proposition -- is actually conspicuously contentious.

Dr. Susan Davis, chair of Women's Health in the Monash University Department of Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, is the lead researcher on the pharmaceutical company Trimel's trials. On the CBC radio program The Current, Davis specified that while she doesn't use the term "disorder," she is adamant that there is a spectrum of sexual dysfunction in women -- where they don't reach orgasm -- that can be likened to impotence in men. She says that denying its existence and medical validity is "sexist [and] inappropriate." Men have Viagra/Levitra/Cialis, and women should have an equivalent option.

Tefina is testosterone in the form of a nasal spray, which, like Viagra, dilates blood vessels. One place that happens noticeably is the genitals, where increased blood flow increases sensation. "This dilation increases the capacity for women to experience an orgasm," Davis told The Current. According to her it's been effective in about 60 percent of patients when used prior to sex. Beyond the physiologic mechanism, interestingly, she says testosterone also "has effects on thoughts, desires, and fantasy."

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