Love & Sex

Why You Won’t See a Female Sex Drive Drug Anytime Soon

Pin it

There is no such thing as female Viagra.

We need to stop searching for the next female Viagra. Why? Women don't have penises which require increased blood flow in order to maintain an erection.

Flibanserin, the latest in a long line of pharmaceuticals to be slapped with the "female Viagra" label, is set to petition the FDA for approval again this month after being rejected for the last three years. Though not the first female desire pill to be marketed—testosterone patches and gels have come and gone—flibanserin is unique in that it is a non-hormonal treatment that increases blood flow to certain areas of the brain and boosts levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and noradrenaline. In other words, the pill promotes the good horny feelings in the brain while suppressing the pants-on inhibitors.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals tested flibanserin on more than 11,000 pre-menopausal women in clinical trials, supposedly resulting in an average increase of 2.5 satisfying sexual episodes per month for each woman. The FDA responded: Your clinical results are way too modest. 

While this pill, once thought to be an anti-depressant, seems like it would be treating the right area of a woman's body to turn on, it fails to address why untold scores of women seem to have almost no sexual desire. Last I checked, women are just as eager, lustful, and drooling as the rest of us.

According to a 2002 study, up to a full third of all adult women have hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) or a lack of sexual desire or fantasy. And according to the Kinsey Institute, only 29 percent of women have an orgasm with their partners regularly. If you see a suspicious correlation with those statistics, you're not wrong. The women who have a "disorder" are the same ones who aren't getting off. If you're left with eternal blue ovaries, it starts to feel like a condition. But for some, female sexual dysfunction is far from medical, and thinking otherwise is detrimental to finding their sexual satisfaction.

Nerve spoke to Dr. Michael DeMarco, a clinical sexologist practicing in New York, about the prospect of flibanserin and female desire pills like it. He explained, "It's a race to find the female answer to Viagra. Once drug companies find something that has vague positive results, and they get it approved, the marketing campaign begins for how many gazillions of women are suffering from sexual arousal disorder, anorgasmia, hypoactive sexual desire disorder, etc.—all currently treated by talk therapy." 

While there are at least 24 FDA-approved drugs for male sexual dysfunction on the shelves, there are also at least that many causes of female sexual dysfunction. They won't all be treated with one pill. We can't keep hunting for a female Viagra like it's the libidinal holy grail because women's and men's bodies are simply too different. Therapy, social mores, and knowledge of female anatomy and pleasure might be less expensive and more direct ways to treat FSD while we're waiting for a silver bullet that might never come. As sex guru Dan Savage will tell you emphatically, you "should be bothered to educate yourself about women's bodies and women's orgasms before you start fucking women."

Image via Veer.