An evening with your remote is about to be revolutionized.
In just two to three years, you may be erupting into orgasm with the simple touch of a button.
A new gadget — the "Orgasmatron" — basically promises a near-instant orgasm by targeting your lower back.
But one question remains: Are we wiping out the joy of sex by bypassing the need for foreplay?
I first heard about the Orgasmatron in 1998 when I was a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.
My cohort and I were fascinated by the impact such a “toy” could have on lovers. Although the idea of a near-automatic climactic response was as mind-blowing as the orgasmic experience itself, we had to wonder if such instant sexual gratification was for the better.
These questions lingered in my mind:
— Would human sexual relations necessarily be improved if stress over the inability to orgasm were so easily eliminated?
— Would sex be a better experience if you didn’t have to work for your satisfaction?
— Could the ability to orgasm effortlessly ultimately foil the relationship red flag a sexual disorder, like lack of "O", often signals?
When anesthesiologist Dr. Stuart Meloy was working on a device for treating chronic pain, I’m sure he wasn’t thinking that his spinal cord stimulator could one day treat orgasmic dysfunction. But soon after powering up an electrode that had been placed into the spine of a woman with chronic back pain, the patient began moaning and hyperventilating. She not only reported decreased pain, but an orgasm!
Meloy decided to conduct a study of 11 women, six of whom had never had an orgasm and five of whom had lost the ability to orgasm. Ten of the 11 were stimulated by the device’s electrodes, which were implanted into the bottom part of the women’s spinal cord (the 11th participant never used her device during the nine-day trial). Using a remote control, Meloy stimulated the device’s electrodes, which fire impulses to the brain in blocking pain signals.
The women who had had orgasm at previous points in their lives interpreted the signal as an orgasm. The women who had never had an orgasm found the sensations pleasurable, but not climactic.
But pleasure comes with a price tag — $12,000 to be exact.
In the years since Meloy’s discovery, the popular press has been eagerly awaiting the Orgasmatron.
Actually, let me take that back. The world has been waiting for an "orgasmatron" since 1973. That was the year Woody Allen’s movie “Sleeper” introduced us to an orgasm-inducing cylinder. Up to two people could enter this fictional device of the year 2173, only to be rocked by a rapid succession of orgasms.
The movie’s main character, Miles Monroe, played by Allen, discovers the orgasmatron by mistake while running from the police. In hiding in what looks like a closet, he’s easily captured, sporting a dazed look on his dopey, smiling face. It was, in fact, this movie that Meloy had in mind when he trademarked his own device.
Currently, FDA-approved for bladder problems and pain, Meloy’s device delivers direct, sacral nerve re-stimulation that can result in enhanced sensation, vaginal lubrication, and sexual sensations, including multiple orgasms.
Still, experts recommend that women may want to look into this option as a last resort for treating sexual dysfunction.
An Orgasmatron for men is also being investigated.
But I keep coming back to that one question: Are we ignoring how such a device will impact our relationships?
Foreplay may be considered a drag by some, but the fact remains that the erotic time preceding the “main event” helps us out in so many ways.
It promotes bonding. It heightens anticipation. It makes the entire sexual experience that of a performance and not just a grand finale.
Personally, I think sex – if we could even call it that anymore – with a gadget like the Orgasmatron would deflate my desire. Part of what makes sexual intimacy so wonderful is the speculation of what’s going to happen next. How is this going to feel? How will this be different? How are we going to come out of this experience feeling closer and better than ever?
Part of what makes lovemaking so much fun is seeing your partner’s body react – feeling your body come alive. A great deal of what makes climax so satisfying is the loving, erotic effort that had to go into it. Failure to go through the sexual response cycle to reach orgasm robs you of almost everything such intimacy has to offer.
Is that what we want? Thankfully, we’ve got a couple of years to think on that one.
In the Know Sex News …
— G-shot injection parties — desperation makes for dollars. Dr. David Matlock, the plastic surgeon featured in reality show, “Dr. 90210,” makes no apologies for what he does. In helping women to “find” their G spot, he injects a dose of human collagen to the front vaginal wall. Supposedly, the erogenous zone is temporarily enlarged, making it easier to find. Despite the lack of FDA approval and studies proving that the medical procedure works, patients are waiting up to 6 months to pay $1,850 for this G-shot.
— Male offenders not necessarily tricking teens into sexual liaisons. A new study in American Psychologist has found that men who commit Internet-initiated sex crimes are not lying about their age, are open in their desire for sex, and use e-mail, chat rooms or instant messaging to meet and lure teenagers. Instead of using violence or abduction, most sex offenders operate slowly, developing their victims’ trust in working toward a sexual adventure or romantic relationship.
— Sloppy reporting makes for even more questionable results. An article in New Scientist, titled “Ultrasound Nails Location of the Elusive G-Spot,” is being called out by sex experts as sensationalized reporting. Based on a very preliminary study, the article failed to mention some of the most fundamental scientific problems with the investigation conducted by Italian researchers. Instead of focusing on issues like the researchers’ lack of definitions and methodological problems, the article claimed that “a simple test could tell you if it is time to give up the hunt for your G-spot or if your partner just needs to try harder.” With news outlets everywhere recycling this poor reporting, the damage has been done.
Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc . She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."