Whatever Happened To: The Orgasmatron

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It was like something from a sci-fi movie, a gadget that would help women orgasm. The name ‘orgasmatron’ is from a Woody Allen film and the gadget gave orgasms at the press of a button. In real life, the closest thing to an orgasmatron is a sex toy, usually a clit stimulator or a vibrator.

The idea for an orgasmic device surfaced during an operation. The physician in question, Stuart Meloy, got the idea when he was performing a spinal operation when he was implanting electrodes in the spinal column of a female patient.

“We implant electrodes into the spine and use electrical pulses to modify the pain signals passing along the nerves,” he says. The patient remains conscious during the operation to help the surgeon find the best position for the electrodes. Meloy’s breakthrough came one day when he failed to hit the right spot. “I was placing the electrodes and suddenly the woman started exclaiming emphatically,” he says. “I asked her what was up and she said, `You’re going to have to teach my husband to do that’.”

Meloy anticipated trials to begin a year after the New Scientist article, but years later, in 2008, the next article discusses further developments in the Orgasmatron:

He started a formal pilot study of the device, which is approved for use in treating bladder and pain problems, implanting it in the spines of 11 women, some of whom had never had an orgasm. The women, who were instructed to keep a record of all their sexual experiences, were allowed to use the device for nine days adlibitum.

Meloy’s study, published in 2006 in the journal Neuromodulation, reported that 10 out of 11 of the patients felt pleasurable stimulation from the device, including increased vaginal lubrication. Five of the women had previously lost their ability to have orgasms; four regained it with the device. (The fifth never used her device during the nine-day trial because of work stress, she said.)

None of the five women who had never had an orgasm was able to experience one with the device, however. “They said it was pleasurable, but it wasn’t sending them over the edge,” Meloy says.

The experimental implant — now trademarked by Meloy as the Orgasmatron after the orgasm-inducing cylinder in Woody Allen’s 1973 movie “Sleeper” — rests on the skin just above the belt line. Two electrodes snake into the space between the vertebrae and the spinal cord. A video-game-like remote control allows women (or their partners) to turn electrical pulses on and off and fiddle with timing and intensity.

The orgasmatron isn’t just for women, with plans underway for a male version of the gadget but not everyone is 100% behind the product. The doctor and his gadget made an appearance on Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! Searches on Google haven’t really produced anything new apart from the fact that Meloy had difficulty finding volunteers to have the spinal surgery to implant the electrodes.

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