I have first hand experience with sexual dysfunction. I floundered in the medical community for 10 years before receiving proper treatment. When I finally went to a sex therapist that actually understood my symptoms, she sent me to the right doctors and my healing began.
Prior to this, I experienced the medical inadequacies, neglect and dismissal of my symptoms by the ob/gyn community. Many physicians were ill equipped to address my medical concerns. Women’s sexual health sat low on the research totem poll. However, times, they are a ‘changing.
Set to be released in October 2015, the controversial drug Flibanserin, marketed to women as Addyi, will hit the marketplace. Have women finally been given the miracle cure needed to treat low sexual desire?
Low sexual desire, once classified as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), now known as Low Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder, effects 20% of the female population. It is defined in the DSM-V as:
a persistent or recurrent deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies, thoughts or desire for, or receptivity to, sexual activity, which causes personal distress”
Does Addyi signify progress? Maybe.
Women’s health advocates are polarized on the distribution of Addyi. Historically, women’s sexual dysfunction has long taken a back seat to men’s within the sexual research and medical communities. Men have a plethora of meds available to treat their sexual dysfunctions while women do not have any. So, seems like a win, right?
Not necessarily. Some advocates express deep concerns about Addyi, including how it differs from medications like Viagra. One of the main differences includes how it actually works.
Unlike Viagra, which treats the physiology of erectile dysfunction by triggering blood flow to the penis, Addyi works on the woman’s brain by targeting her neurotransmitters. Unlike Viagra, where men take one pill as needed, Addyi is taken daily, whether she plans to have sex that night or not.
Even worse, it’s efficacy only ranges from 8-13%. Addyi has been rejected twice before by the FDA for concerns that the potential significant side effects outweigh the benefits.
These side effects, including but not limited to dizziness, drowsiness and hypotension require the pharmaceuticals to include a boxed warning label, the strongest label a drug can receive. Physicians and pharmacists are also required to receive a special certification to even administer the drug.
I feel deeply concerned about our general “pill popping”, “quick fix”, “instant gratification” culture and how this little pink pill might rob women from truly understanding their own sexual complexities.
Just as birthing a baby has become a medicalized, numbed experience for women, epidurals and drugs like Addyi can rob a woman’s opportunity to harness and step into her most powerful expressions of sexuality.
Sexual desire is not linear but multi-layered. It does not sit in isolation unto itself but is instead, interwoven in every aspect of our lives. This applies to both women and men.
Even men lose the opportunity to truly understand their sexual dysfunction if they only “pop a pill”. In fact, many men pop a pill and still do not get erect. Relational pressures, work stress, disease, sexual confusion and more influence whether a man can get it and keep it up. Viagra and the like will not cure these issues.
What I appreciate most about the development of Addyi is the dialogue generated. Women’s libido and sexual functioning finally makes headline news. The social dialogue and greater culture helps give permission to women to talk with their doctors, ask questions and disclose their sexual concerns.
What side of the argument do you sit on? Join the dialogue. Weigh in. Write a comment or concern in the comments box or send me your thoughts. I will absolutely respond to you.