The Little Pink Pill: Wonder Drug or Disappointment?
Effective, affordable libido pills for women are still a thing of the future, as a new pharmaceutical fails to produce reliable results.
The New Female Libido Pill and How It Works
AddyiTM is the brand name of the drug flibanserin. This psychoactive drug was originally developed for use as an antidepressant, though that prospect has since been abandoned. Since then, it has undergone research for the treatment of low libido in women. The FDA rejected the drug twice, stating that the benefits were not worth the risks, before finally accepting it in August 2015, and it became available to consumers in October. According to studies done by the manufacturer, using Addyi may improve the sex lives of some, but not all, women who take it daily for an extended period of time.
Addyi is colloquially known as "female Viagra®." However, the two are nothing alike. Viagra® works by increasing blood flow to the genitals, and is taken whenever a sexual encounter is desired. Viagra® does not actually increase male libido, but only makes it easier to achieve an erection. In contrast, Addyi supposedly increases female libido by modulating serotonin and dopamine activity in certain areas of the brain, and must be taken daily for several weeks to several months before results appear, if they appear at all. Viagra® doesn't have any effect on sex drive or sexual satisfaction when taken by females.
The Drawbacks of Female Libido Pills
The new pharmaceutical libido pill hasn't exactly lived up to the hype. Its most serious side effect is that it can cause very low blood pressure, leading to fainting and other problems. Those taking it have to completely abstain from alcohol for the many months that they take it, which may not be worth it for many women. Some less-severe side effects include sleepiness, dizziness, nausea, insomnia and fatigue. (Ironically, these side effects could mean you're not in the mood when the time comes! You probably won't be in the mood if you're nauseous, right?)
Many women may not be able to afford Addyi, as taking the drug regularly will likely cost around $780 per month. Insurance companies might not cover the costs of this drug for the duration of the time that a woman needs to take it, if they cover it at all, so it could be quite expensive even with insurance.
Although Addyi carries many side effects, the positive effects tend to be minimal. On average, the drug adds just one more satisfying sexual event per month compared to placebo. This is just the average; although some women experienced one more satisfying sexual event per week, most experienced none at all. Yes, Addyi is more effective than a placebo, but just barely. The small change that it makes to one's sex life is likely not worth it for most women considering the side effects and cost.
Besides the side effects, cost, and minimal effects, the new female libido pill also faces other criticisms. Some believe that the making of this "female Viagra®" is centered around the expectation that women's sexuality should be the same as men's. In the studies done on Addyi before it was made publicly available, the women were having an average of two to three satisfying sexual events per month before starting Addyi, which is actually a pretty typical amount of sex for women of their age. It can be said that the makers of Addyi are trying to fix what isn't broken.
Another criticism is that although the drug did increase the number of sexual encounters, that doesn't necessarily mean that their sex life as a whole improved. Many patients actually say that Addyi makes them feel satisfied because they have fulfilled their obligation to their husband to have sex. So, does Addyi help women's libido, or just make them feel pressured to have sex more often?
Is It Worth It?
All in all, it must be decided on an individual basis whether the new female libido pill is worth taking. It's pricey, comes with possible unpleasant side effects and most users experience no effect. In the end, treatments such as therapy, couples' counseling and sexual exploration may be better contenders for helping women improve sexual satisfaction.