What better way to kickstart my blogging than with a topic I've been meaning to address for months: the big money race to cure women of their sexual dysfunctions. Orgasm Inc., a documentary by Liz Canner and her wonderful team, takes us on the pharmaceutical roller coaster of developing a way to "cure" Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). That's right: it's even got an illness-y name and acronym!

So what is FSD? It's not based on any new medical evidence, according to Dr. Susan Bennett, who teaches human sexuality at Harvard Medical School. And it doesn't seem to be associated to any general physiological issue. In fact, many commentators featured in Orgasm Inc. believe that FSD has been constructed mostly by pharmaceutical companies. After all, FDA approval necessitates that a drug specifically treat a disorder... and pharmaceutical companies just happened to be sitting at the discussion table when FSD was "found".

Currently, there are a minimum of 12 companies racing for FDA approval of their earth-shattering FSD treatments. A few ideas they are testing:
-The Orgasmatron: consisting of electrodes treaded up the spinal cord with a remote control to adjust the electrical parameters
-Viagra: using it "off-label", as it has been approved for erectile dysfunction only and even if it was shown to be ineffective in women during Pfizer's clinical trials
-Genealogical plastic surgery: giving women the "choice" to make changes to their vulva
-Intrinsa: testosterone patch (this one was refused FDA approval; however, it was approved in the European Union)
-Alista cream
-Testosterone spray

Would you be attracted to these options? From the number crunching shown in Orgasm Inc., many American women are waiting for such a miracle solution. A few interesting American "stats" from the film:
-40,000 women are affected by FSD
-43% of women suffer from female sexual dysfunction
-1/3 of women over the age of 25 have problems with orgasmic dysfunction
...could any of those be related to these:
-1 in 6 women will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime
-80% of women have body image issues 
-many women believe "something is wrong" if they experience any or all of the following: vaginal dryness and low libido (both potential symptoms of hormonal birth control methods, such as The Pill), difficulty reaching orgasm (especially if this difficulty is during vaginal penetration), inability to have multiple-mind-blowing orgasms on demand (ok... so maybe I exagerated that last one!!).

It makes me wonder, among other questions, about our perception of normalcy. Who gets to tell women they are abnormal or dysfunctional? Especially when it comes to our sexual intimacy and orgasm, should we base personal experiences on any norm? On the flip side, how can we ignore all the idealistic messages around us?

As you may have been able to tell, I didn't want to ruin any surprises from Orgasm Inc. I do encourage you to watch this great documentary. Find out about the latest screenings on TV or at a theater near you (being distributed in Canada and the US in 2011)! You can also stream it in Canada on CBC's The Passionate Eye

But before you go out and watch it, a word of caution as stated on the film's website: "ORGASM INC. will change the way you think about sex"... and from me: it will change - hopefully - the way you think about pharmaceuticals' influence on our perceptions of health, illness, and "needing to be cured"!

Seriously though, do we need a pill (spray, patch, cream) or a map of female genitalia (clitoris: you are here!)?


02/15/2011 10:23

Orgasm Inc. also covered in TIME: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2048609,00.html ; )

11/27/2013 10:26

Definitely have good advice related to improving sexual life


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    Sarah Burke

    Sarah Burke

    Public health and communications professional into sexual, reproductive, and perinatal health.