Libido Drug For Women Approved
On the 18th of August 2015, the FDA approved a drug called Addyi (flibanserin). Addyi was specifically developed to treat pre-menopausal women who have been diagnosed with generalised hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).
It's believed around 1 in 10 women experience HSDD, with other sources saying it's much higher.
In simple terms, this means women who are bothered by unexplained low libido can pop a pill, in the hope of achieving higher levels of sexual desire and satisfaction.
However, healthcare providers prescribing Addyi will be required to rule out other possible causes of low libido before diagnosing women with HSDD. This includes relationship issues, psychiatric and mood disorders as well as medical problems.
So, is this great news for women?
Certainly, for women experiencing low libido (especially over a long period of time) it may appear to be a miraculous answer to their prayers.
Despite this, there are certainly plenty of concerns about the emergence of such a pill onto the market.
Women's health and reproductive specialist, Doctor Andrew Orr, sees many patients — both women and men — with libido concerns. He warns that Addyi wont be the “magic pill” which many are praying for.
“Orgasm and libido issues require a mutlimodality approach. These people need counselling, adequate sleep, proper diet, time to stop the chatter in their brain, space to be in the sacred feminine, time out from social media, and time out to bond with their partner. They need to take the superman or super woman cape off. The diet and lifestyle changes are easy enough — they just require time and commitment.”
There's also a significant difference between Viagra and Addyi. Viagra works on a man's genitals, and requires him to take a pill prior to having sex. Addyi works on the woman's brain, and is taken daily.
Serious Side Effects
From a health perspective, Addyi doesn't come without it's fair share of side effects and contraindications. A prominent warning will be featured on the box of Addyi, highlighting the following serious problems:
- Addyi can cause severely low blood pressure and loss of consciousness
- The risks increase and are more severe when taken while consuming alcohol, meaning alcohol must be avoided altogether
- Certain medications (including antifungals) can also increase the risks, and interfere with the breakdown of Addyi in the body
- The most common adverse reactions include dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, fatigue, insomnia and dry mouth
Doctor Janet Woodcock, Director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, advised there would be extra careful management of the prescription and dispensing of Addyi, due to its serious contraindication with alcohol.
“Because of a potentially serious interaction with alcohol, treatment with Addyi will only be available through certified health care professionals and certified pharmacies,” continued Dr. Woodcock. “Patients and prescribers should fully understand the risks associated with the use of Addyi before considering treatment.”
So far, three trials have shown around 10% more Addyi-treated participants than placebo-treated participants reported improvements in “satisfying sexual events, sexual desire or distress“. This comes after previous attempts over the last five years to bring the drug to market. However it failed due to results being unable to demonstrate a significant enough benefit for those taking the drug, compared to those who had taken the placebo.
While women suffering from low libido may be desperate for help, is just 10% of an improvement worth the risks? With an adverse event rate of 15%, you're more likely to get sick than horny, as reported by Ob/Gyn, Doctor Jennifer Gunter, here.
The Bigger Issues With Low Libido For Women
While it's still early days, some people are concerned about the marketing objectives of libido boosting drugs for women.
Susan Greenbank is curious as to the tactics marketers will employ. She says, “Who will the ‘cure' be marketed to? Men who want their women to be more pliable, most likely, rather perhaps than the women themselves. How much easier to just make your woman pop a pill than have to make any effort in the relationship?”
Other major concerns include turning a normal response into a medical one, especially when you consider a woman requires connection in order to have meaningful sexual relations.
Wife and mother, Beck Hart says, “How does this get diagnosed? Well, it's a complex process. First of all, a husband or significant other ignores his partner. Next, she loses interest in making love with him because she feels emotionally disconnected. Then, all women have a pathological condition requiring medication, and usually there will be an accompanying journal article for empirical validation. That's a pretty broad diagnostic process, but you get the gist!”
Wendy says, “It makes me feel like women not wanting to have sex equals pathology. Men need to take a honest look at themselves if they think their women don't want to have sex because she is diseased in the brain.”
Of course, it's critical that communication works both ways. Women should communicate how they feel, what's working and what's not when it comes to sex with their partner. Men should also communicate if they suspect something is going on with their sex life, which needs to be talked about. Men also need to be open to hearing some hard and honest feedback, without taking offense. In order to make progress, both parties need to be willing to delve deep and hear some potentially difficult things.
What Issues Can Contribute To Low Libido For Women?
Low libido may seem like a very complex topic, but for the most part, there are many lifestyle issues which put a dampener on libido — no matter if you're a man or a woman.
If you've just had a baby, then it's common sense that you need to go gently. Potent hormones involved with birth and breastfeeding, sleep deprivation and a huge life upheaval are at play.
In a poll in the BellyBelly forums, the biggest reason (by far) why mothers didn't feel like having sex with their partner was a lack of sleep – even science tells us that less sleep is a significant contributor to low libido. A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that for each additional hour of sleep a woman has, it increased the likelihood of her having sex by 14%.
But there are several reasons why mothers may experience low libido, which I have covered in more detail here.
The greatest concern for many women is the fear that a drug like Addyi will turn a normal process into a pathological one.
When you consider our lifestyle choices today, it's really no surprise that many women — especially mothers — are experiencing a loss of libido. While there may be some unexplained cases doctors come across, here are some things to consider:
#1: What We See On Screens and In Advertising
In his article, half a dozen hacks for a thriving sex life, Jordan Gray says, “As a byproduct of the commercialisation of sex to sell soft drinks, deodorant, and video games, the sexual act itself has become increasingly void of depth and passion.”
And it's not just advertisements, distractions and commercials that can hijack depth and intimacy in a relationship.
Porn has become pervasive in society, so much so that addictions are on the increase. But wait… isn't porn supposed to spice up your sex life? Little known to many, it can have the opposite effect.
In studies, women have reported many negative impacts, specifically with how they feel about themselves when their partner watches porn. This is hardly surprising, when other studies have found male porn users become more picky about their partner's appearance, and may even find them less attractive.
Rather than bonding with their partner, porn users can emotionally bond with those on the screen. We're now seeing an increase in women addicted to porn too, leaving both male and female porn users stuck in denial.
Taking your attention, presence and focus away from your partner in exchange for sex on a screen will not deepen intimacy. It deepens disconnection, hence a disinterest in sex for women.
In addition, porn is not as educational as some believe. Scenes are designed for the visual aspect — predominantly a man's pleasure, rather than teaching connection, intimacy and sexual skills. As many women will attest, those tongue flicking techniques which may look great on the screen, can be really annoying in real life. The pornstar-like skills some people think they have, can be their very undoing in the bedroom.
See peer reviewed research on how porn harms relationships.
#2: A Lack Of Quality Sexual Skills and Knowledge
It's hard for someone to admit that they feel clueless or unskilled in the bedroom. It's highly unlikely that your parents will pull you aside as a teen and tell you how to pleasure your partner.
For many partners, it can be hard to tell their partner that they don't find sex very pleasurable either. What if both feel clueless, due to a lack of education or an over reliance of what they've seen in porn?
Thankfully, there are resources where you can learn about pleasing your partner. Forget the porn, get educated about connected sex and relationships. Try learning about tantric sex, which is all about intimacy and connection. Make sure you get the information from good sources or workshops.
#3: We're Overstretched
No matter how old your children are, you just never seem to feel like you have enough time or enough sleep. As mothers we juggle kids, family commitments, work, business, study — and we forget about ourselves. When we start making withdrawls without deposits, we hang on to what little we have for ourselves.
Say you've had a demanding or stressful day. The kids are finally in bed, so you curl up on the sofa and take a big breath out — finally, you can relax. But then your partner wriggles over and makes a move on you. All you can think of is, “But i've just sat down!” You crave emotional and physical space to fill your cup back up.
Without making deposits into your feminine, nurturing bank account, you wont feel like you possibly have anything to give. What can you do for yourself? Are there any commitments during the day that you can drop?
#4: We're Hooked Into Technology
It seems every week or so, we're seeing new articles about how technology is taking over our lives.
Our highly distracting devices keep us hooked in, because our brains love finding new and interesting things to read. We love to be updated and to know what's going on.
But this can also cause harm to our relationships. Due to the demands of work, many women and men rely on night time to complete work or study.
However, this can not only cost connection time with your partner, but make you tired, and not in the mood for sex.
#5: Trust Issues
Have you had any issues in your relationship where trust has been dented? Do you feel safe and certain with your partner?
Underlying issues including past trust issues may be the cause of your low libido. For a woman, she needs to feel safe to truly let go during sex. If you have any unresolved issues or if something is bothering you, it might be time to bring it up. An open and honest discussion with your partner can be very healing.
If you fear opening up about what's on your mind, how can you fully open up during sex?
If he can't handle your feelings, shuts you down or runs away, it's not about you – and if he's not willing to work with you, your answer might be right in front of you — leaving you with a big decision to make.
Sometimes you need to ask yourself hard questions in relationships. Are you content in this relationship? Do you see a long term future with this person? Do you feel safe, emotionally and physically?
Is The Female Libido Pill For You?
Like many others, Doctor Orr strongly believes we need to look at the bigger, more realistic issue.
He says: “A 10% improvement over placebo is nothing to get excited about. When I deal with men and women with libido issues I look at their whole life, their stress levels, their diet, their relationship dynamic, the lack of coping skills and also their compatibility as a couple and lastly, is their any sexual abuse or trauma. You need counsellors involved, you need to fix their diet and lifestyle and then their are natural supplements and herbal medicines as part of my ConceptShen (practitioner dispensed only) range that will do much more for their libido than any chemical drug on the market. I look at fixing the issue, not masking it, or patching the issue.”
At the end of the day, we can look to pharmaceutical companies to create “cures” for us which come with risks – sometimes serious. Or we can choose to take stock and have an honest look at what is going on in our relationships, inside ourselves, what we put into our body and what's going on with our environment.
Just like multivitamins should not replace a healthy, balanced diet, a libido pill should not replace a healthy, connected relationship with plenty of communication, learning and growing. Just like relationships, sex and intimacy require effort as we go through the peaks and troughs of life. Even if you feel an issue with your partner may be contributing to low libido, you're also contributing to the problem if you don't decide to speak up and work towards a resolution, while honestly sharing your feelings. It can be scary for some women to ask for what they need, or be honest with sexual problems, but practice makes it easier. Perhaps you might like to invest in some communication courses for couples if you're worried about how the message will be sent or received.
While you may not feel like it right now, you can probably remember how it felt to have a delicious, satisfying sex life. See where you can make changes in your life to bring sexy back.