Low libido is one of the most common struggles affecting women today, research shows that 26.7% to 52.4% of women have experienced significant low libido in their lifetime. Knowing this, finding a simple solution in the form of a pill could potentially help millions of women across the world.
Men have had Viagra to keep them going since 1998. Is there something similar available for women? Where’s the magical pink Viagra for women with low libido?
Is there actually a way for women to take a pill in order to have more sex?
You may not have heard of them, but there are actually 2 different medications available for women with low libido on the market today. The first one, called flibanserin (or Addyi) was released in 2015, and the second, bremelanotide (Vyleesi) was released in 2019.
Let’s start with flibanserin.
How does flibanserin (Addyi) work?
Flibanserin comes as a pill that you need to take every evening in order to see an effect and increase your sexual desire. At least, that’s how it’s marketed.
In 2015 Flibanserin (Addyi) was released and marketed as a treatment for Hyposexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), a condition where women don’t experience sexual desire at all and it causes them a lot of distress.
It works in the brain by increasing levels of dopamine and noradrenalin, and decreasing serotonin in some parts of the brain.
In contrast, Viagra works by increasing blood flow to the genitals, and it doesn’t increase sexual desire. This is why Viagra doesn’t work for women, because when there is increased blood flow to women’s genitals, it doesn’t necessarily translate into sexual desire.
If you have a look at the results of this study, they found that the flibanserin only gives you 0.5 extra sexual encounters per month (or one extra sexual encounter every 2 months). They analyzed 8 different clinical trials and found that it didn’t provide any significant benefit at all. It was a flop.
What’s more worrisome is that it has terrible side effects, such as nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and tiredness. These side effects alone would probably put you off sex!
Should I take flibanserin (Addyi)?
Let me answer your question with another question. Is it worth taking this pill every day, struggling with the horrible side effects, only to have one extra sexual experience every 2 months?
For me? I think not. Besides, you’d have to take it every day for up to 12 weeks before you even experience the maximum benefit.
In addition, birth control and alcohol use can make the side effects even worse. Flibanserin also interacts with anti-depressants (SSRIs), so women living with depression, anxiety and OCD can’t take it either.
This is definitely a case where the risk is higher than the reward.
What about bremelanotide (Vyleesi), does it work?
Bremelanotide (Vyleesi) was approved by the FDA for the treatment of Hyposexual Desire Disorder in 2019.
It’s supposed to work by activating melanocortin receptors in the brain which help regulate mood. However, the FDA admits that the mechanism by which it improves sexual desire and related distress is unknown.
Vyleesi is taken by injection into the skin of your thigh or abdomen 45 minutes before sexual activity. It’s a take-as-needed treatment rather than a pill that you take every day.
Does it work?
Once again the results are disappointing. Some women in the study reported that they experienced an increase in sexual desire, but it didn’t actually lead to more sexual encounters.
So what’s the point?
Side effects can include nausea, gum darkening, and skin pigmentation of the face and breasts.
There are restrictions though, you cannot take it more than once in 24 hours and/or more than 8 times per month. Taking more than the recommended amount can lead to serious side effects.
My problem with Vyleesi
First problem: If you don’t feel like having sex right now, are you going to go inject yourself with this medication in order to increase your desire for sex? You’ve already made up your mind. I’m pretty sure you just wouldn’t take it, it’s not going to suddenly change your mind. I’m sure you had valid reasons for not wanting to have sex in the first place.
Problem 2: Do you think a nauseated woman will be interested in thinking about sex, never mind actually having sex in 45 minutes? I don’t think so!
Problem 3: If you’re going to go to all the trouble of injecting yourself with this medication, of course you’re going to say yes to sex within 45 minutes. Whether it’s the placebo effect or not.
Then you’d probably find that while sex is happening you get into it. Will you thank the medication? Or will you thank your natural responsive desire?
It’s definitely worth thinking about.
So let’s get back to the reason you’re here.
Is there a magic pill you can take to fix your low libido?
The short answer: No. At least not yet.
Sexual desire is incredibly complex because it happens in the brain, and not in the genitals. It’s not a simple plumbing issue that can be fixed with Viagra. We STILL don’t know everything about how desire works yet, so finding pharmacological solutions for low libido is incredibly difficult.
A pill won’t fix your relationship with sex
I know it would be so much easier to simply pop a pill to feel like sex, but wouldn’t that just mask the real underlying issues?I know it would be so much easier to simply pop a pill to feel like sex, but wouldn't that just mask the real underlying issues? Click To Tweet
By focusing on improving your relationship with yourself and your partner; understanding how sexual desire works; and actually deal with the complicated emotions you have around sex, you can already make significant changes to your sex life.
While it’s great that we are focusing on female sexuality and realizing its importance, focusing our efforts on 1 magic pill might not be the best way to go. What we can do is start with all the non-pharmacological interventions first.
To end let me share this quote by Lux Alptraum, she says it perfectly:
Our best sex lives aren’t brought to us by our local pharmacist. They’re brought to us by a deep, intimate understanding of our desires, our body’s capacity for pleasure, and the ways in which we enjoy being intimate with other people.
If you’re struggling with low libido and need help understanding your sexual desire and how to improve your sex life, start right now by taking the FREE Libido Assessment.