Stop Calling Flibanserin Female Viagra

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The FDA approved a pill called Flibanserin to treat low sexual desire in otherwise healthy women. While it’s hailed as the ‘female Viagra,’ is surely is not.

The FDA has just approved a pill to treat low sexual desire (hypoactive sexual desire disorder) in otherwise healthy women. Flibanserin is being hailed as a Viagra for women. It may be a great many things, but it isn’t female Viagra.

Let’s start with the reality. As humans get older, their sex drive drops. In general, this is a good thing. Who the hell wants to be teenage horny in a body that has seen 50, 60 or 70 years of wear and tear? Hell, you could really hurt yourself.

On the other hand, sexual congress helps keep couples together, and therefore, it has a useful social function. Stable couples tend to result in more stable societies. Stable societies tend to be those where there’s enough to eat, the old and young don’t suffer greatly due to age and the plumbing tends to work.

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A great many couples who make it to golden wedding anniversaries have active sex lives because it really does bring you closer to your partner. And there are often genuine problems in a relationship when the sexual dimension declines to nothing.

That’s why Viagra, Cialis and Levitra (which would have been good names for Greek or Roman goddesses) became so popular. Men who literally couldn’t perform suddenly could get the job done again. However, these magic pills address erectile dysfunction — in other words, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is a matter, not of the naughty bits, but of the brain. Flibanserin, originally an anti-depressant, works on neurotransmitters in the brain that affect sexual desire. Tinkering with the chemistry of the brain is a damned sight trickier than making more blood flow to certain parts of the body.

When the FDA approves or denies approval of a drug, it must answer two questions. First, is it safe? Medical News Today reported, “The drug’s clinical trials saw a 14 percent drop-out rate due to adverse effects. The full data were not reported on what these adverse effects were, but what is known is that women taking flibanserin had 10 times the risk of dizziness and four times the risk of sleepiness compared with a control group.” And the study ran about 18 months, so the long term effects, like cancer risks, remain unknown.

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The second question, is does it work? MTN said, “The clinical trial found the drug produced an additional 0.7 ‘sexually satisfying events’ per month.” I don’t know how you have 0.7 events of anything, but when it comes to sex, I think we all agree than 0.7 events would be inherently unsatisfying. We’re looking for whole numbers here.

The that “Female sexual response is complex. For most women, simply addressing difficulties with arousal may not get to the actual problem — which is often a lack of sexual desire. Many factors can influence a woman’s sexual desire.” The clinic cites things like stress, life changes, orgasm issues, relationship matters and some physical conditions like diabetes and MS as causes of decreased sexual desire.

Any female Viagra that really works is going to have to address at least one of those. And that’s the trouble. The brain is the largest sex organ humans have — and we have no idea how it really works.

Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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