In August, the FDA approved
Addyi, the first
drug authorized to treat
hypoactive sexual desire disorder
(HSDD), or lack of libido. As the
first such pharmaceutical designed
for women, the press dubbed it
Female Viagra — incorrectly, since
Viagra and its cohort address the
physical issue of erectile dysfunction
and are taken as needed.
Addyi, or flibanserin, tweaks the
brain’s mix of neurotransmitters
dopamine and serotonin, must
be taken daily and can take two
months to fully kick in.
Unfortunately, the results are,
um, anticlimactic. Relative to the
placebo, only an additional 10
percent of women in trials had
a marked response: hardly one
more sexually satisfying event per
month. “Not very many, in light of
all of the significant side effects,”
worries Lori Brotto, a University
of British Columbia sex researcher
and a leading HSDD expert. Alcohol
exacerbates these side effects,
including severely low blood pressure
and loss of consciousness.
And since women with conditions
that often accompany HSDD,
like depression, were excluded
from the trial, Brotto notes that
Addyi’s impact on them is still unknown.
Still, she believes the drug
might benefit some of the roughly
10 percent of women with HSDD.
The critiques of its effectiveness
and side effects have triggered
important discussions in the field
about desire and what drives it.
“I think that’s a very good thing,”