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Tefina, 'female Viagra' that boosts orgasms, in clinical trial

By JohnThomas Didymus     Nov 5, 2012 in Science
Women who experience difficulty reaching orgasm will soon have a medicated nasal spray that enhances sexual arousal at their disposal. The nasal preparation Tefina, is believed to make it easier for women to climax.
Tefina is being developed by a Canadian company Trimel Pharmaceuticals, and the research is backed by scientists from Case Western Reserve University in the US, and the Monash University in Australia.
According to the Daily Mail, studies show that up to 30 percent of women suffer a condition that makes it difficult for them to reach orgasm. Researchers are developing a treatment for the condition in the form of a nasal spray they have informally dubbed "female viagra," after the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction in men.
The Huffington Post reports that the new spray is meant to treat Female Orgasmic Disorder (FOD), defined by the American Psychological Association's diagnostic manual as "Persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm following a normal excitement phase."
The drug called Tefina, is a testosterone gel. It is absorbed into the body through the nose, One News reports. The gel is absorbed rapidly, within minutes, and enhances a woman's sexual libido after a few hours and the effect is expected to last about six hours.
The nasal spray is now undergoing Phase II of clinical trials. Professor Susan Davis from Monash University is leading trials being conducted to assess the effectiveness of the spray.
According to The Huffington Post, Australian researchers plan to recruit about 100 pre-menopausal women between the ages of 18 and 49 for the trial. The clinical study is a double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Researchers will administer Tefina or a placebo to trial participants in their homes and not in a hospital or laboratory setting.
The drug is testosterone-based. It is believed to boost sexual desire by activating certain brain centers and increase blood flow to the female sexual organs.
The researchers say they do not expect Tefina to have any major unpleasant side effects, such as acne, body hair growth or deepening of the voice. They also say they do not expect any unpleasant side effects in women who fail to have a sexual encounter after using the preparation.
According to Professor Davis, "We anticipate the treatment will work like Viagra for women. Rather than a long-term, therapy-based approach, this drug can be taken when a woman anticipates sexual activity. We have previously shown that for women with low sexual interest, testosterone therapy not only improves sexual desire and arousal, but also enhances a woman’s ability to reach orgasm."
One News reports that some fertility experts have criticized the research, saying it is designed for commercial exploitation of female sexuality. Dr Ric Gordon, a fertility expert, said the treatment may encourage sexual therapists overlooking the real causes underlying women's low sex drive. He said: "Men use sex to de-stress and women need to be de-stressed to have sex, so that’s a very complex emotional issue."
Another critic, Lenore Tiefer, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center, said: “The current wave of medicalization has much more to do with economic issues. There’s more of an industry involvement now.”
Expert critics say that research into pharmaceutical products in the field of human sexual function is dominated by economic profit motive. They say that with Viagra now a $2 billion-a-year industry, pharmaceuticals are looking to expand the market into women's sexual issues.The critics say FOD is not a disease and should not treated as though it were.
But Professor Davis insisted that sexual dysfunction has significant impact on women's wellbeing. She said: "Through previous research, we have shown that women under 50, who are not experiencing sexual pleasure will still participate in sexual activity on average five times per month, primarily to maintain relationship harmony. Further, we have shown that women who report poor sexual functioning have lower wellbeing, despite not being depressed. Doctors have little to offer women who are experiencing anorgasmia, and this could be a breakthrough study for women who currently are frustrated by the lack of any treatment option."
Dr Fiona Jane of the Melbourne's Monash University told One News: "Female sexual dysfunction is a real thing and we think up to 43% of women suffer some form of sexual dysfunction." She added: "A lot of people have thought that drumming up the idea of a female 'Viagra' is just for pharmaceutical companies. In fact, there is a huge need for women to have their sexual dysfunction addressed."
The website, i09, opines that it should be up to women to decide whether or not they want the drug. The Huffington Post comments: "It’s about personal choice and a person’s right to have access to these technologies. Assuming they’re safe and effective, we can decide for ourselves how to best use them."
I International Business Times reports the drug could be available in the market within the next three years if clinical trials are successful.
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