‘Viagra for Women’ Is a Bust

A review of literature and meta-analysis led by Loes Jaspers from Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands concluded that flibanserin, sometimes called the “female Viagra,” is only marginally effective— leading to an average of only one-half additional sexual satisfying event per month. Side effects include dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Forty percent of women suffer from low sexual arousal, which causes significant anxiety and concern in women and men. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved flibanserin (from Sprout Pharmaceuticals) for treating hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women. Clinical studies found that the drug increased sexual desire and the frequency of satisfying sex. It is a non-hormone drug that works by stimulating the brain’s centers for motivation and rewards. Side effects, such as dizziness, nausea and sleepiness, have prevented FDA approval in the past. Men have drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and testosterone for boosting sexual performance, but sexual problems are more complex in women than men. Contributing factors to low sexual desire in women such as stress, relationship problems, difficulty reaching orgasm, loss of intimacy and poor metabolic health are not cured easily by a pill. “Female Viagra” is not the answer. (JAM Internal Medicine, published online February 29, 2016)

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