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LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Wanted: women to test new orgasm machine.

No, really. An American surgeon who has patented a device that triggers an orgasm has begun a clinical trial approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States and is looking for female volunteers.

"I thought people would be beating my door down to become part of the trial," pain specialist Dr Stuart Meloy told New Scientist magazine on Wednesday.

But so far only one woman has completed the first stage of the trial, with apparently breathtaking results, and a second has agreed to take part.

Meloy, of Piedmont Anesthesia and Pain Consultants in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is hoping to find eight more volunteers willing to have electrodes inserted in their spine and be connected to a pacemaker-size machine implanted under the skin to heighten their sexual pleasure.

The married woman who tested the machine, dubbed an orgasmatron, had not had an orgasm for four years. But during the nine days she used it, she had several.

"She even told me she had the first multiple orgasm of her life using the device," said Meloy.

He stumbled on the unexpected side-effect while using a spinal cord stimulator a few years ago to treat a patient suffering with severe back pain. The woman had already had back surgery for degenerative disk disease and fusion surgery.

When Meloy placed the electrodes into a specific spot on her spine to find nerve bundles carrying pain signals to the brain, she moaned with delight.

"You're going to have to teach my husband how to do that," he quoted her as saying.

Sexual response

The tiny impulses of electricity applied to the electrodes seemed to have turned on the patient's orgasm button.

Although the device has been compared to the orgasmatron featured in the 1973 Woody Allen film "Sleeper," Meloy envisions patients using it temporarily to retrain their sexual response.

The women in the trial described it as "really excellent foreplay."

Although some medical experts are sceptical about the procedure and say a vibrator can produce the same results, Meloy believes it could help to improve sexual response in women who cannot have orgasms and might even help men as well.

A full implant of the device would cost about 13,000 pounds ($22,000).

"I don't see it any differently from procedures such as breast implants," Meloy told the magazine.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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