DFW Beauty News: FDA Approves "Female Viagra"

474947687

Is it time to cue the condom confetti? Female Viagra has arrived. The FDA just announced approval of Flibanserin (brand name Addyi), the first drug ever approved to help women with a low sex drive put a little heat between their legs.

And can we just say—it's about time. Men have had help for their sexual dysfunction for decades, but women with low libidos have been left in the cold to either figure out how to warm ourselves up or be seen as frigid in the bedroom. We're not saying this pill will be a cure-all, nor are we saying that you should have sex if you don't want to. But for women who simply want to want sex, this little pill could be game-changer. (Keep in mind these 5 Common Libido-Crushers to Avoid.)

"Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (the fancy name for 'not tonight, honey, I have a headache') affects one in 10 women," says Michael Krychman, M.D., a sexual medicine gynecologist. He was one of five doctors on the FDA panel that approved the new "wonder drug", but he is not a paid spokesperson for the drug company that manufactures Addyi. "This is an important solution for restoring sexual interest in women who feel distressed at the loss of their desire." (Yikes! There are also these 8 Sex-Related Problems Women Stress Over.)

The drug was rejected twice over the past five years before this final approval. In those cases, the drug needed more studies and critical questions answered, which Krychman says Sprout Pharmaceuticals has addressed satisfactorily (a point that is, of course, up for debate among people who still think the drug is unsafe).

But know this first: This pill is not Viagra. Because men and women are different (no surprise there!), a female libido booster has to work on in an entirely different way. For starters, the male sexual stimulant works by sending more blood flow to the genitals—the female version affects your mind. Addyi is a non-hormonal medication that alters key chemicals in the brain to enhance sexual response, says Krychman. Specifically, it increases dopamine and norepinephrine—neurotransmitters that are responsible for sexual excitement—while also decreasing serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is responsible for sexual satiety or inhibition. (Learn more about The 20 Most Important Hormones for Your Health.)

If those chemicals sound familiar, it's because they're the ones targeted by most antidepressants—fitting, since the drug was first created as a mood stabilizer before scientists recognized its other potent benefits. And similar to antidepressants, Addyi takes several weeks before you start to feel your engine revving and up to eight weeks of daily usage before you hit full speed. It then needs to be taken on a continuous basis, not just when you want to have sex.

The drug is aimed at pre-menopausal women suffering from low sexual desire but, at the risk of sounding like one of those annoying drug commercials, it's not for everyone. For starters, Flibanserin isn't the miracle drug Viagra is. While 80 percent of men who take the little blue pill report a happier ending, only eight to 13 percent of women who took the little pink pill saw improvement over taking a placebo, according to a study published recently in JAMA.

Krychman says you'll need to be cleared by a doc first to ensure you're in good health and you need to be especially careful if you're already on any medications, particularly an antidepressant. Most importantly, though, is to consider what your low libido stems from. (Find out What's Killing Your Sex Drive.) While the pill may help women in many different situations, Krychman cautions that it shouldn't be used as a band-aid for controllable causes of low libido like fatigue, stress, dysfunctional partners, or relationship concerns. Instead, you should work on those issues first or in conjunction with a medical approach, he says. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of non-medicinal ways to up your desire in the bedroom (and the bathroom and the kitchen...). Never underestimate the power of a healthy diet and exercise to get all your body functions in peak form, Krychman says. You can always try herbal supplements as well (Krychman recommends Stronvivo). Some of our favorite 'script-free methods are these 6 Ways to Lift Your Libido.

But the best thing you can do for your sexual relationship, he says, is work on your romantic relationship. "We need to prioritize sex with our partner and rekindle the romance," he explains. He advises going on a digital fast in the evening and spending more time together uninterrupted. (We agree. Find out how Your Cell Phone Is Ruining Your Downtime.)