Last night I watched an interesting documentary called Orgasm Inc. that traces the development of two female sexual dysfunction drugs: Alista, a topical testosterone cream, and Intrinsa, a testosterone patch that was rejected by the FDA. Both failed because they couldn’t satisfactorily improve women’s sex drives or orgasmic capabilities. The film focuses on the invention of the disease Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD), which director Wendy Ettinger argues is a disorder created by the pharmaceutical industry to sell unnecessary drugs.
The women’s equivalent of erectile dysfunction (ED), FSD is a vaguely defined disease, characterized by “persistent, recurrent problems with sexual response or desire,” according to the Mayo Clinic. The DSM IV divides FSD into nine separate conditions, some characterized by physical symptoms, and others that are purely psychological. To illustrate the inability of the medical establishment to fully grasp female sexuality, here is a list of the symptoms that supposedly present themselves in cases of Subjective Sexual Arousal disorder, a subset of FSD:
“absent or diminished feelings of sexual arousal from any type of sexual stimulation; however, vaginal lubrication or other signs of physical response occur.”
In other words, even if a woman’s vagina is saying yes, her brain might be saying no. And the brain overrules the vagina, unlike in the male system where the penis is king. That’s why Viagra doesn’t work as well for women. All most men need is an erection and they’re ready to go. Determining women’s sexual arousal is much more difficult. Some women need a romantic setting and a loving partner to achieve an orgasm, while others just require a bottle of 99 Bananas and a clitoral erection.
To further complicate the definition of Female Sexual Dysfunction, even if you have all the symptoms, you do not necessarily have FSD unless “these problems are making you distressed or straining your relationship with your partner.” Not only has the medical establishment been unable to sufficiently define FSD, but also they have not come to a consensus on how to treat it, or determined how many people are afflicted. Researchers have variously estimated that anywhere from 10 to 46 percent of women suffer from some form of the condition.
Female Sexual Dysfunction is nothing new. In fact women’s sexual problems have consistently been a great source of concern in Western culture, especially since the mid-1800s. The only thing that has changed is the name. One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, we called these diseases neurasthenia, hysteria, and frigidity. In the 21st century, drug companies have re-branded these syndromes as Female Sexual Dysfunction.
To date, drug companies have failed in curing this affliction, but I believe that if women take FSD into their own hands, they can solve it once and for all. The solution? Simply creating a detailed list of sexual instructions for current and future partners. These should be tacked to the bed or a motion sensor should be set up that begins playing a recording of them once the sexual partner has entered the bedroom.
A hypothetical example is given below:
“Welcome new sexual partner. In order to sexually arouse [insert your name] or bring her to orgasm, you must first perform a 22 minute full-body massage while discussing the history of erotic art in America. Then, place your tongue at a 45-degree angle to her clitoris, while massaging her upper thigh with your right hand, and inserting the index and middle fingers of your left hand into the vaginal canal. Do this for nine minutes. Try to ignore the cramping in your head, neck, and hands.
Side note: if you plan on engaging in sexual activity with her in the future, prepare for it by taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug thirty minutes before commencing sexual activity.
If none of these techniques work, download pornography to her laptop, balance the computer on her stomach and continue performing cunnilingus for the duration of the erotic film. If these approaches continue to be unsuccessful, remove the laptop, take a five-minute break and introduce your own methods into the mix. If all else fails, extricate your face from her vulva, make your way to the kitchen, and locate the bag of Pretzel M&M’s that is stored in the cabinet to the right of the sink. Bring these into the bedroom. You may share them with her, but you are only allowed to eat two of them.”
Coming Soon: In Part II of this blog post, I’ll be detailing some other medical treatments for FSD, including clitoral pumps. I’ll also argue why capitalism is good for women’s sex lives.