Does this new libido pill for women really work?
In my mind, pills are like apps. Do you have a common problem to solve? There’s an app for that, as Apple has trademarked. Do you have some health related issue? There’s probably a pill for that. Blood pressure? Check. Cholesterol? Check. Social anxiety? Check. Erectile dysfunction? Check. Obesity? Check. Female libido? Oops! No check! But just wait! Big Pharma is working on that! As far back as January 2005, as published in the British Medical Journal, attempts have been made to develop a misnamed female Viagra.
But let’s go back to the beginning. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder. HSDD. It’s a lack or loss of sex drive (libido) in women that leads to distress. It’s not the same as erectile dysfunction in men which is more of a plumbing issue. Men can be troubled by ED and still be interested in sex. It’s the loss of interest leading to distress that drives the definition of HSDD. Obviously (or maybe not), it’s a complicated issue.
You’re not going to be interested in having sexual relations without your partner if you’re upset with him or her. You’re also not going to be interested in sexual relations if you’re tired from work (whether inside or outside the home), if you’re worried about money or your job, if you’re distracted by family and friends, etc. You’re also not going to be interested in sex if you’re depressed or taking certain medications of if you don’t have a positive self-image.
But what if it’s none of the above? That’s where Big Pharma has been trying but without much success to find an easy to take, side effect free solution to this relatively common situation in women. This post isn’t necessarily about the medicalization of the human condition (often referred to as disease mongering) but rather about the latest and greatest pill yet, Lybrido. You know it’s a big deal when Popular Science does a write up on a yet to be approved drug. And as expected, the New York Times also developed a nice review of the topic. But it took a bit more digging around to figure out just what’s in Lybrido: testosterone + sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra), as noted in the Neurocritic, a blogpost. So if you can’t wait for the science to catch up with good solid evidence and proof, ask your doc for the individual medications and play mad scientist.
Moynihan, R. (2005). The marketing of a disease: female sexual dysfunction BMJ, 330 (7484), 192-194 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.330.7484.192
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