Staffers in the OC Weekly DataLab tested the efficacy of Vitafem, a gel marketed by OC Weekly advertiser the Pleasure Co. Inc. Vitafem is intended to "amplify orgasmic intensity" in women. Directions for use (printed on a small square of pink paper) suggest applying "a liberal amount of Vitafem . . . directly to the clitoris. For maximum effect, apply under the clitoral hood. Full potency can take up to five minutes."

Given subdermal physiological similarities between the clitoris and penis, DataLab researchers wondered whether Vitafem would amplify orgasmic intensity in men. The study included two parts—theoretical (a chemical analysis of the product) and practical (actual use of the product on a male subject, an intern, X).

CHEMICAL ANALYSISOddly, despite warnings that the product is for external use only, several of the ingredients (ethoxydiglycol, glycerin, saccharide isomerate and propylene glycol) are sweeteners.THEORETICAL CONCLUSIONACTUAL USEOC Weekly DataLabOC Weekly is always looking for new interns. Call (714) 550-5900, or e-mail Ann Hallett at Intern X applied a liberal amount of Vitafem to his manhood. Under the watchful eyes of several DataLab staffers, Intern X remained flaccid. He refused several direct orders to stimulate himself publicly, complaining that he was ashamed. Appeals to science produced no change in subject. Subject entered DataLab men's room for solitary research, emerging 10 minutes later to announce he had noticed no difference. Repeated requests for details about solitary research produced embarrassed silence from Intern X. Rubbing this stuff on the prescribed body part will do nothing except what rubbing a sexual organ usually does for either sex: eventually lead to orgasm from friction. An ingredient list included with Vitafem suggests that most of the active ingredients are male aphrodisiacs intended for internal consumption. L-argenine is a common amino acid that is believed to be a nitric oxide precursor; nitric oxide is the blood gas that helps men (and presumably women) keep erect—the same gas that Viagra works on. Yohimbine hydrochloride and Yohimbine extract are probably key here, taken from the bark of an African tree known for its aphrodisiacal properties. (One DataLab researcher tried Yohimbine 25 years ago with his fiance; it gave him an erection "like wood," he reports, and an urge to thrust repeatedly. It made his intended vomit repeatedly. Intercourse was impossible.) Kola extract is a natural caffeine, as is Siberian Ginseng extract. Muira Puama extract is another alleged men's aphrodisiac, from the Amazon basin.

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