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Another headline about ‘Female Viagra’

By Steve Korver Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 18:25
‘Female Viagra’ was recently approved for market in the US. But do women really want to get erections on demand? … These news flashes and more in this week’s Sex in the Press.

Let’s stop calling it ‘Female Viagra’

‘Female Viagra’ was recently approved for the US market, resulting in an orgasmic wave of media reaction.

Unfortunately, flibanserin – aka ‘Female Viagra’ – is nothing like Viagra. Namely, it does not increase blood flow to the naughty bits.

Instead, it’s meant as a long-term treatment to increase libido – or sexual desire – in the estimated 10% of women who suffer from hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

But some believe ‘libido’ – or sexual desire – is an obsolete concept. (‘Desire is dead. Long live desire’)

Some even wonder whether this disorder was invented by the pharmaceutical industry to make piles of cash. (‘Big Pharma, low libido and the rise of disease mongering’)

Certainly, the drug comes with a whole slew of potentially serious side effects, including cancer in mice and tripling the likelihood of getting into a car crash.

In addition, users of the drug have to commit to complete abstinence from the ultimate in libido-enhancers: alcohol. (‘Stephen Colbert's Late Show bit about the absurdity of Female Viagra was fantastic’).

Bad science?

“The FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] unanimously rejected this ‘unacceptable’ drug five years ago. So why did they suddenly change their minds?” wonders ‘Female Viagra “is bad science”’.

Nothing had changed in the drug’s chemistry. But everything had changed in how the new owners promoted the drug.

“The people behind it, in this case, is Sprout Pharmaceuticals, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based company dedicated to ‘breakthrough firsts in women’s sexual health.’ A picture of eight women with arms crossed and stern faces greets users on the homepage. The eight males who make up the nine-person Board of Directors must have been out that day.”

 

“In the months before the hearing, Sprout launched a ‘sexual health equity’ campaign called Even the Score. Its message was simple: The FDA’s rejection of flibanserin isn’t science-based, it’s ‘gender inequity.’ ‘The FDA has approved 26 drugs marketed for the treatment of male sexual dysfunctions, compared to zero to address the most common form of female sexual dysfunction,’ reads the website’s ‘get the facts’ section.”

“By the end of the hearing, you felt like there were 20 million women in the room who wanted it,” said one observer. “Husbands showed up and started crying, saying it destroyed their marriages and if they didn’t approve the drug they were going to divorce their wives… It was that man-to-man thing.”

The drug got approved.

Talk therapy

“Researchers at the Medical University of Vienna observed the effects of oxytocin – often referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’ or ‘trust hormone’ – on women struggling with low sexual libidos. In the process, researchers stumbled upon an entirely different solution altogether to improve women’s sex lives: Basic communication between partners, according to ‘It’ll take more than meds to boost women’s sex drives’.

“This was not predicted at all,” says lead researcher Michaela Bayerle-Eder. “It just naturally came out of the process.”

“Half of the women involved in the study used an oxytocin nasal spray before having sex. The other half used a placebo spray. All of the women were required to work with their partner to write journal entries and fill out a questionnaire about their experience after having sex.”

But then it turned out that both groups experienced improved sexual function and enjoyment – no matter if they took the nasal spray or not.

Talking about sex with one’s partner turned out to be the real boost.

“Some couples who’d been together for years were sharing their sexual fantasies with each other for the first time. Sharing what they didn’t like about the sex they’ve always had,” says Bayerle-Eder. “Their unique satisfactions were never really talked about until now.”

But Bayerle-Eder doesn’t believe libido issues are all caused by poor communication.

“This is definitely a necessary field of study. Sexual dysfunction is still a real problem with women. The more research in this field, the better,” says Bayerle-Eder. “Female sexual health is finally being recognised by pharmaceutical companies and the public – we want to keep it that way.”

How would you deal with a ‘low libido’? Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

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