Issue 29 / 8 August 2011

STOP the presses! It has been proven that most women worldwide do not experience orgasm.

Or so the good folk at the Advanced Medical Institute would have us believe.

I received another little black envelope from AMI in my letterbox last week. After getting one of these last year, I wrote about the way AMI uses direct marketing to sell its controversial nasal spray and other treatments for sexual problems to vulnerable men.

In recent times, the “institute” has been reinventing itself as an equal opportunity supplier of these kinds of medical services.

The latest black envelope contained — alongside the usual spruiking of erectile dysfunction treatments — a bright pink flyer especially for the girls. Emblazoned on its front were the words:

Do you suffer from a lack of sexual desire?

I lifted the flap to be informed that four million Australian women were missing out on the best part of their sex lives. Happily for those women who would like to have an orgasm “during intimacy”, the institute’s Doctors (sic ―  they’re Very Fond of Capital Letters at AMI) can help.

It’s not exactly clear how they can help, but apparently it has something to do with a “new technology breakthrough”.

AMI’s website is not much more forthcoming. The page on treatment of female sexual dysfunction doesn’t actually provide any information on, well, treatments, and it appears to have been put together by the same person who wrote the instruction manual for my DVD player:

“Society at large do not perceive women to Sexual Dysfunction & consciousness about women’s sexual desire’ began when AMI came out with a path breaking solutions which the company has been found to help women boost their Sexual desire.”

So that’s clear then.

It would all be quite hilarious if it weren’t for the fact that the generous AMI marketing budget presumably does persuade a fair number of people to part with their cash. (For what it’s worth, the company claims to have successfully treated thousands of women for sexual problems.)

It’s not just AMI that’s the issue. Although some women do undoubtedly experience sexual difficulties that might respond to medical treatment, the definition of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) as a disorder has itself been controversial.

Australian commentator Ray Moynihan is one who has raised concerns about the “creation” of FSD by pharmaceutical companies with products to sell, such as in his article in the BMJ last year.

Writing in response to Moynihan in the same issue of the BMJ, gynaecologist and specialist in psychosexual medicine Dr Sandy Goldbeck-Wood argues her colleagues could do more to help women experiencing sexual difficulties.

Doctors need to leave the “comfort zones” of biology and (often ineffective) medication, she writes, to offer interdisciplinary treatments where these are available or, at the very least, a frank acknowledgement of medicine’s limitations in this complex area.

More open conversations between doctors and their patients — of both sexes — could be the best way of combating AMI and the various other commercial interests with miracle cures to sell.

Jane McCredie is a Sydney-based science and medicine writer.

Posted 8 August 2011

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2 thoughts on “Jane McCredie: Preying on desire

  1. Scott says:

    You sure used a vigorous scientific method in your experiments on patients Dr Peers (rolls eyes).

  2. Dr Robert Peers says:

    There are certainly some women out there who have a low WOW! factor. I have a special interest in anxiety disorder: in 1997 I deduced, from studies on diet and gestational diabetes, and on shyness detected in the offspring of such pregnancies, that fatty maternal diet is the direct cause of anxiety. Such a diet, by slightly inflaming the placenta, allows maternal cortisol to reach and re-programme the fetal brain. About 20-30% of children and adults in the fat-eating nations suffer anxiety. Dr Elinor Sullivan, by feeding fat to her pregnant monkeys in Oregon, has recently confirmed my hypothesis. I treat anxiety with the glucose isomer myo-Inositol, 5 gm/day. This seed sugar inhibits serotonin 2A function, so blocking the anxiogenic actions of the fear peptide, CRF. I have often heard reports, from both sexes, of better libido while on Inositol. Cortisol is known to inhibit the reproductive, growth hormone and immune neuroendocrine axes (G Chrousos). Inositol reverses HPA stress axis activation (J Levine. 2001), so must be lowering cortisol levels. Treated women also report faster growth of hair and nails, which eventually grow out to be stronger and shinier than ever before: this protein synthesis effect may represent better growth hormone secretion, or it may simply be due to a reduced cortisol level. Inositol has marked effects on fertility and oocyte quality in women with PCOS, who are very often anxious (see POLYCYSTIC AND INOSITOL, on PubMed). It is ALSO anti-ageing ( J Barger, 2008, EXPER GERONTOL). Ray Moynihan is making it up, not the drug companies.

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