Sex & Relationships  
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Whatever Happened to Foreplay?

Big Pharma would rather give you a testosterone spray to make you excited.

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The race has gone on for a few years now but is yet to come up with anything to cure the "secret epidemic" (as it's been termed) of FSD, despite the fact that it's said to affect around 40% of women. Oprah said it, so it must be true. The latest cure-all to arrive is Tefina, a nasal testosterone spray, created by Trimel and currently entering clinical trials with an estimated release sometime in the next 3-5 years. It's being marketed as a treatment for Female Orgasmic Dysfunction, a condition apparently unheard of until Trimel came up with the name and decided it needed a treatment.

In case you're worried you might have it, according to Trimel, "FOD is defined as the persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm following normal sexual excitement phase that causes marked personal distress or interpersonal difficulties". What constitutes "normal" sexual anything no one knows, but let's not let specifics get in the way of vast generalisations. You might be concerned about the potential side effects of the absorption of testosterone, but Trimel is quick to reassure people that Tefina is "expected to present an attractive safety profile, with virtually no androgen-related side effects such as acne, facial and body hair growth or deepening of the voice". Probably just as well, given the adverse effect on your sex life of waking up with a hairy chest and baritone growl.

There are many cooked-up statistics to support the existence of and, therefore, need for treatment of FOD of the unspecified "studies have shown" variety. For example, one in five women has FOD, 30% can't climax during sex, not 1 in 5 but 43% of women have FOD and "many women" have sex up to five times a month, despite not wanting to, because they think it is what their partners want and is, therefore, good for their relationship. I find this last factoid disturbing because, technically, this is sex against the woman's will so raises the issue of consent which is far greater cause for concern than the potential efficacy of a nasal spray. Not that relationships have anything to do with sexuality - no, it's all about the chemicals.

Despite being billed as an "on-demand" treatment, the spray takes up to two hours to have any effect which doesn't sound very on-demand to me. I suppose I could fill those hours on something fun like, I don't know, foreplay, maybe. Once you're fired-up, the effect is reckoned to last around six hours. Yet to be released is any literature on what this effect is likely to be and, crucially I think, what happens if you have a squirt but don't have sex. Say you take it before you go out, but don't meet anyone you'd want to have sex with, are you left, squirming on a bar stool, horny as hell, with an engorged clit and wet pussy? If that's likely to be the case, Trimel should be providing pocket rocket vibrators with every prescription.

Kate Gould is a writer, Beethoven groupie, feminist, campaigner for sex workers' rights at SCOT-PEP, tattooed lady, etiquette fanatic, insatiable reader, and commissioning editor at The Fine Line.