“Addyi” to Add Hope for Women with Low Libido

Flibanserin, now referred to as Addyi to the public, is a drug that’s been under study as a non-hormonal treatment for pre-menopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder; it’s expected to be widely available at pharmacies October 17.

Clinical Trials for Addyi have been performed on 11,000 women making it the largest ever for a women’s drug! These extensive trials found the drug increased their desire, decreased their distress and increased their number of sexual events. Importantly, the drug has shown minimal side effects compared to those for male sexual dysfunction – in fact, compared to most drugs, period. It’s time to trust pre-menopausal women with this condition (and the health practitioners who advise them), to decide if this is right for them. 

Although Addyi is often referred to as “female Viagra,” it works entirely differently. Unlike the blue pill, which increases blood flow to the genitals and is taken only as-needed, Addyi targets the central nervous system and is taken every day. Over time it alters the balance of chemicals in the brain, in a fashion not unlike what you see with antidepressants. On the technical level, it boosts dopamine and norepinephrine, which are tied to sexual excitement, while regulating serotonin, which is linked to sexual inhibition. This, its supporters say, increases women’s desire.

I’m so excited to finally see notable progress in this arena. When it comes sexual health research women are light years behind men! Men’s sexual health research started in the 1970’s – with 26 now approved medications for male sexual dysfunction. Although the FDA approved Viagra for men in 1998, and a host of prescription drugs since then, the FDA has not approved any medications for women’s sexual function. The FDA describes this as an “unmet medical need.”

“An unmet need…” I’ve listened to tens of thousands of stories from women across the world since starting Pure Romance; I can say with confidence, this is an unmet medical need in our society. Its passage is groundbreaking for women suffering from the disorder, and also opens doors for future research and advances in the field of women’s sexual health. It’s issues like these that motivated me to start the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health in 2005. Since starting the Foundation, we are proud to say we have raised $2.5 million for sexual health research. Yet, there is still more work to be done and a huge need for research and education in this field.

For women that suffer from sexual dysfunction and who are trying to make their relationships stronger, it can be heartbreaking. It’s not their fault if the sexual desire just isn’t there. 1 in 10 women suffer from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder; while, about 5 percent of men in their 40’s suffer from sexual dysfunction. Women have come a long way in our society over the last century, from lobbying for the right to vote to successfully balancing family and careers. It’s time to talk about equality when it comes to the big pink elephant in the room – gender equality in the field of sexual health research. If you would like to learn more about this topic or the Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health, please visit our foundation website.

Click below to watch my interview on this topic on Cincinnati’s Local 12 News below!

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