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Finally, a sex drive drug for women!

There is finally a medication for sexual desire for women!!

Have you ever wondered why there are 26 FDA approved medications for male sexual dysfunction, including numerous medications for erectile dysfunction (Viagra, Cialis) and hormonal treatments (testosterone gels, lotions, and injections) and yet, until now there was nothing for women, unless you count vaginal estrogen which is used for painful intercourse in postmenopausal women. I have my own theories for this discrepancy, which I’ll go into in a later paragraph, but there is good news about the approval of a medication for female low sex drive. HSDD is defined as an absence of sexual fantasies or desire which causes distress to the woman, and is not due to another medical/psychiatric disorder or substance, and is not due to normal fluctuation in sexual desire.

Flibanserin, which will be released by Sprout Pharmaceuticals under the rather unimaginative brand name of ADDYI, (I think YIPPI would have been a much better choice), was approved by the FDA on August 18th. Flibanserin is not hormonal. It’s not estrogen or testosterone. It’s not the female Viagra. It is a medication that works on the brain, our most powerful sexual organ, by changing the levels of neurochemicals involved in sex drive, namely dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. It is taken every day and usually takes 3-4 weeks before it is effective. As soon as Flibanserin is available, I’ll post a blog with a lot more information to help you make the decision whether or not to speak with your doctor about trying it.

So, why the difference in the number of medications available for male and female sexual dysfunction.

I think the reason is three-fold. First, I do think there is a cultural bias in our society as regards to the value of female sexual function as compared to the value placed on male sexual function. I think this is changing, and I think Flibanserin is just the beginning when it comes to medications that will be available for women for the treatment of sexual dysfunction. Secondly, a number of the studies done on medications for sexual function use episodes of successful sexual events to measure the success/benefit of a drug and I think this is probably a better marker of benefit in men than in women. Put another way, women may find the increase in sex drive a benefit, whether or not it leads to a higher number of “successful sexual encounters”.  As a matter of fact, Flibanserin only increased the number of successful sexual events from 2.8 to 4.5 times per month, hardly earth-shaking results, though 43-60% of the women on Flibanserin noted a benefit with the medication. And the third reason there are so few (read zero) drugs on the market for female sexual dysfunction is that we’re complicated. Our sexual function can be affected by a number of things—hormones, stress, partner issues, body image, self-care, medication side effects—that often a drug that addresses one of these issues is not an answer for the others. My advice for now is to find a gynecologist who specializes in female sexual dysfunction and will look into all of the things that might be contributing to your issues with sexual function. If you’d like to take the first step, email me and I’ll send you a copy of my Sexual Health Questionnaire and we can start you on the journey to the satisfying and even terrific sex life you deserve.

 

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