Orgasm Disorder in Women Subject of New Study
Twenty percent or more of women are affected by a form of sexual dysfunction called anorgasmia, or female orgasmic disorder, for which there are no approved treatments. Now a new study will explore the effect of a drug on pre-menopausal women with this type of orgasm disorder.
What is anorgasmia?
Anorgasmia in women is the inability or failure to achieve orgasm. This term includes women who are medically unable to have an orgasm, but in the majority of cases the causes of this sexual dysfunction involve psychological, cultural, or relationship factors.
Prior to this newest report, a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010 noted that potential treatments for anorgasmia in women included bupropion (Wellbutrin, a type of antidepressant), sildenafil (Viagra, typically used to treat erectile dysfunction), estrogen, and testosterone, among others. The authors also stated that "significant progress is being made" in understanding and managing orgasm disorders among women.
New study on anorgasmia
This latest study is an example of the efforts being made to find an effective treatment for this sexual dysfunction. The international Phase II study will explore the ability of Tefina™, a nasal gel that contains testosterone, to improve the occurrence of orgasm in pre-menopausal women who have the disorder. A total of 240 women from the Australia, Canada, and the United States will be enrolled.
According to Trimel Pharmaceuticals, which makes Tefina, the drug has been used in a successfully completed clinical trial of patients who had both hypoactive sexual desire disorder and anorgasmia. The results of that trial verified that the intranasal delivery of testosterone is safe and effective and can produce a positive response.
This new study is one of the largest clinical trials to examine "use-as-needed" Tefina for women who have anorgasmia. The medication is administered via an applicator by patients 1 to 4 hours before anticipated sexual activity, and the testosterone is absorbed by the membranes in the nasal cavity, which then raises the body's level of the hormone.
Low testosterone levels have been named as one cause of anorgasmia. That's because testosterone, even though it is present in low levels in women, is involved in sexual desire, blood flow to the vagina, and the development of an orgasm.
Other possible causes of anorgasmia in women include medical problems (e.g., diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hysterectomy, gynecologic surgery), use of certain medications (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, antihistamines), alcohol use, hormonal birth control, depression, performance anxiety, stress, cultural and religious beliefs, fear of pregnancy, relationship problems (e.g., lack of communication with partner, infidelity), and guilt about enjoying sex.
The head of the new study, Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, who is chief of behavioral medicine at University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital, explained that "Tefina is a potentially revolutionary treatment to restore women's ability to obtain orgasm and sexual satisfaction." Women ages 18 to 49 who have this form of sexual dysfunction can inquire about the study at the local site, which is University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
Ishak WW et al. Disorders of orgasm in women: a literature review of etiology and current treatments. Journal of Sexual Medicine 2010 Oct; 7(10): 3254-68
University Hospitals Case Medical Center