Regulators in the US have approved a drug called flibanserin, which everyone is referring to as “female viagra”, but there are several reasons this widely touted nickname is misleading.
Let’s put this “great moment in medical history” into context. A decade or so ago, a new treatment for angina, a condition that constricts blood vessels to the heart, was released that had an interesting side effect – it cured erectile dysfunction.
From that moment, the search was on: if drugs could bring men a better sex life, why not women?
Drug companies have expended incalculable time and money searching for this pink bullet that would have women diving into the sack with renewed vigour. Drugs have come and go, and there have been countless herbal remedies. And finally, this drug they’re calling Addyi has claimed the title of “female viagra”.
Except that it’s not really.
Suzanne Moore, writing in the Guardian, says, “The promise of Addyi is rather like all female desire: mysterious and somehow problematic. Viagra locates the sexual disorder of men in the genitals and their mechanics. The problem for women is located in the brain.”
Addyi does not work on a woman’s genitals at a mechanical level the way viagra does. Instead, it targets neurotransmitters in the brain, acting on the brain’s “sexual impulses” in a similar way antidepressants such as Prozac work.
There are other very important differences: one does not pop an Addyi on a date night, instead, the drug must be taken every day. Oh, and definitely don’t pop the champagne because it reacts badly with alcohol.
For all the media hype, it is also worth noting that this drug is not designed for the general lack of libido that comes with age and witnessing the growth of one’s husband’s ear hair. It has been created for a specific condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or sudden and severe loss of libido, and has best results on pre-menopausal women.
We don’t mean to disappoint, but in other words, this drug is simply not what it’s being worked up to be by the media frenzy.
It’s not even very safe. The side effects, which include low blood pressure and potential blacking out, hardly make it worthwhile, and it was rejected three times before finally being approved.
And so the search for a true “female viagra” must continue, do you think they’ll ever find it, or do you think female libido is a matter too complex for a simple pill?