12 Things You Need to Know About ‘Female Viagra’

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‘Female Viagra’ is closer than ever to becoming a reality, with an FDA voting 18-6 in favor of approving the daily pill Flibanserin on the condition that its manufacturer develops a plan to limit safety risks.

Flibanserin, which will be marketed under the name Addyi, is intended as a solution for women suffering from “low sex drive which causes them personal distress.”  And it’s already ruffling a lot of feathers because of the very big differences between male and female sexuality which make even the tag of ‘Female Viagra’ a misnomer.

Here’s Why:

1) The drug doesn’t work like Viagra.Flibanserin treats women through a completely different mechanism than the way that Viagra works in men. Viagra increases blood flow to the genitals to help men achieve an erection, while flibanserin works on the brain and central nervous system to increase dopamine and deal with serotonin

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2) It’s similar to an anti-depressant. It was initially tested as an antidepressant before researchers realized that it might have pro-sexual effects, and works in similar ways to anti-depressants.

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3) There are still safety concerns. Side effects include fainting, nausea and low blood pressure, which the manufacturers have been told will require some sort of safety programme beyond simple label warnings before it gets the final go ahead.

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4) Many limitations to its use. If it gets final approval, there will be a long list of cautions like ‘Don’t take with alcohol, don’t take with a long list of prescription medications.

5) The way it is taken is completely different. While men take Viagra is taken only when an erection is desired, and get results within an hour; women must take Flibanserin daily for an indefinite time.

Woman enjoying pleasure

6) It isn’t an instant fix.The effects of Viagra on men are seen almost instantly since it boosts blood flow directly to the penis. But women who took flibanserin every day in a trial did not see any benefits over a placebo until four weeks after they started treatment.  “Peak results” did not come until eight weeks after patients started the regimen.

7) It’s only minimally better than a placebo. Women who took flibanserin in trials reported having an average of 4.4 satisfying sexual sessions a month versus 3.7 sessions among those who took a placebo. Viagra works for around 75 per cent of men most of the time. (the mediocre result was one reason it has already been rejected twice before buy the FDA)

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8)The drug isn’t meant for all women who have a low sex drive. Women who experience occasional short bouts of low desire may not be good candidates for the new treatment. The women who participated in the clinical trials for Flibanserin were married for an average of 10 years and had suffered from HSDD for a long time – about five years. Women who experience low sex drive because of relationship issues or other health reasons are not considered good candidates for the drug.  Experts say they should consider other treatments such as making lifestyle changes that reduce stress, halting their use of antidepressants or participating in relationship counselling.

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9) Women’s groups are divided on it – some favour, some oppose. The female drug has been championed this time around by a high-profile coalition of women’s groups called Even the Score, which argues that there is inherent gender discrimination in the FDA’s decisions to approve Viagra and other drugs to treat male libido while blocking the licensing of an equivalent for women. But other women’s groups still oppose it for health and safety reasons.

10) Some fear women will feel pressured into taking it. Stephanie Merritt in The Guardian commented on the “most problematic aspect” – how some men might respond to the idea that there is now a magic bullet to “fix” women’s lack of desire. She asked “How many women might feel pressured into taking medication to combat a dip in desire rather than examining the possible causes?

“Many women experience natural fluctuations in libido; the idea that popping drugs with distinctly unsexy side-effects such as nausea, dizziness, fatigue and fainting is the answer to a temporary low patch seems inherently dangerous, another instance of big pharma gleefully rushing to profit from something that isn’t a clear-cut medical problem.”

10) Some women are very happy with it. Some of the 11,000 women who took part in the trials are ecstatic about the drug. Amanda Parrish was one who described it as “a relationship saver” and argued “I should be able to determine if Flibanserin is worth the benefit of treatment.” Indeed the manufacturers told the FDa panel that many women who gained just one more satisfying sex encounter a month considered the results well worthwhile.

12) Working out who will benefit may be the most difficult task of all. The New York Times reports the FDA committee only recommended approval for “women whose lack of sexual desire was not attributable to other causes such as disease or relationship troubles”

Commented the Guardian’s Stephanie Merritt: “Good luck to any physician who has to chart that hinterland of interconnected biological, emotional and circumstantial causes that often lies behind a woman’s loss of interest in sex, and decide who deserves treatment. Would anxiety count as an illness? What about stress, tiredness, hormones? How do you decide whether “relationship troubles” are a cause or an effect of a flagging libido?

A Natural Alternative to ‘Female Viagra’ 

Ignite WomenIf you’re one of the many women who experience low desire, but you don’t want to start taking a drug with potentially lots of unpleasant side effects, why not explore the possibilities of natural herbal supplements made from herbs used for centuries in traditonal medicine for women’s hormonal health?  Herbal Ignite for Women with damiana, tribulus terrestris, dong quai and horny goat weed provides a balance in offering both hormonal balance for menopausal or PMS symptoms as well as stress relief and its relaxing, calming effects.

 

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