Orgasm Inc.

Questions on the search for a pink Viagra.

by Melinda Dodd

In the film, the numbers often used about sexual dysfunction fail to hold up under scrutiny. It’s commonly said, for example, that 43% of women suffer from FSD, but the percentage derives from a 1999 survey asking women whether they’d ever experienced anxiety, disinterest or trouble with lubrication during sex—all symptoms within the realm of normal experience. Even the survey’s author has distanced himself from claims that this represents FSD.

The film suggests that since the FDA won’t approve drugs without a disorder, Big Pharma keeps pushing to create a disease entity the proposed medicine can treat. The paradigm shift—if you’re having trouble enjoying sex, you have a disease rather than a relationship or psychological problem—worries some health experts. "The pharmaceutical industry, through a whole range of very sophisticated PR and marketing strategies, is actually changing how we all think about our bodies," says Ray Moynihan, co-author of Selling Sickness. "Essentially, [they] are turning healthy people into patients."

And that’s what Charletta realizes late in the film when she confesses that she can have orgasms—just not the “right” way, through intercourse. After the filmmaker tells her, off-camera, that most women need clitoral stimulation to climax, her face fills with relief. “I no longer know what’s normal,” she admits. “So that’s wonderful, because that’s a brand-new start.” 

Orgasm Inc. premieres on May 27 at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City.

UPDATE: On June 18, an FDA panel will meet to discuss the approval of flibanserin, a new medication intended to treat low libido in women. Read WebMD’s account here.

TALK TO US: Would you use a pill to enhance your sex drive? Go to the health channel page, lower right hand corner, and take our poll.  

Single? Check out MORE Dating here.

First Published May 26, 2010

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