Viagra For Women?: FDA Hearings Begin Today

Although we’re all familiar with ads for Viagra, the pharmaceutical remedy for male sexual dysfunction, the question of whether a female equivalent is possible has not yet been satisfyingly answered.  This may change, however, with the Food and Drug Administration’s deliberations on the drug Flibanserin, which begin today.  The drug, created by a German pharmaceutical company called Boehringer Ingelheim, was originally used as an anti-depressant (although it turned out not to work for depression).  Now, however, the company claims that the drug can be used to treat a psychiatric condition known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women.

It will be interesting to see what the FDA decides, but I have to say that I find the idea that sexual desire can be so easily traced to a psychiatric condition and treated with a pill.  Although Viagra is certainly widely used, erectile dysfunction is rarely connected solely to a man’s brain, although psychological causes certainly may play a role.  Desire, though, for men seems to be equivalent to the ability to get an erection, whereas for women, the whole issue is far more complicated.  This, as I have written often before, is a disservice to both men and women.  Female sexuality is often treated as mysterious and inexplicable, while male sexuality is devastatingly simple.

Other objections to the drug stem from the commercialization and medicalization of female sexuality.  As Miriam writes on Feministing, “sexual desire is not something that can be measured independently, most frequently what becomes an issue is how it compares to that of your partner (if there is a partner involved).”  I agree with both of these objections, and I’m also a little confused as to why the drug is being marketed as “female Viagra” at all.  Erectile dysfunction is a mechanical issue that, while it can have a lot of different causes, has a fairly straightforward solution.  Similar drugs that increase blood flow to women’s genitals haven’t worked.  The assumption, for men, is that sexual desire is always there – the drugs just allow them to act on it.  But for women, lack of desire is culturally constructed as a psychological, not physical, disorder.

Writing about the “pink pill” last month on Jezebel, Anna North observed, “Actual communication about sex — especially about difficult, potentially un-hot issues like pain or low libido — is still woefully lacking in American culture generally, and convincing women that the solution to their difficulties lies in a simple pill may worsen this problem.”  In other words, would a pill like this actually make things more difficult?  Quick fixes rarely work, especially when it comes to sexual relationships, which require communication and openness.  Surely there are non-drug solutions that haven’t been examined – I suspect because there’s just not as much money to be made.

Photo from Flickr.

85 comments

ERIKA S
ERIKA SOMLAIabout a month ago

interesting

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ERIKA S
ERIKA SOMLAIabout a month ago

interesting idea

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Mariya Desouza
Mariya Desouza6 years ago

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Louace V.
Louace V.7 years ago

Although Viagra is certainly widely used, erectile dysfunction is rarely connected solely to a man's brain, although psychological causes certainly may play a role.
penis

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Jennifer Wheeler
Jennifer Wheeler7 years ago

oh c'mon now. Viagra for men is one thing - i can believe that a happy n healthy older man might need a lil boost ta get his juices pumping BUT i think the drug is used mostly by men who are simply unhappy with their sex lives/partners. I strongly feel that most men using Viagra use it as a crutch, and if they changed up their sex life-boogie then they wouldn't 'need' it anymore.

VIAGRA FOR WOMEN - that's just stupid. Why would a woman need a pill to get aroused when it's a simple as getting the right guy? If ya aint horny you aint horny. DUH

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Jennifer Wheeler
Jennifer Wheeler7 years ago

oh c'mon now. Viagra for men is one thing - i can believe that a happy n healthy older man might need a lil boost ta get his juices pumping BUT i think the drug is used mostly by men who are simply unhappy with their sex lives/partners. I strongly feel that most men using Viagra use it as a crutch, and if they changed up their sex life-boogie then they wouldn't 'need' it anymore.

VIAGRA FOR WOMEN - that's just stupid. Why would a woman need a pill to get aroused when it's a simple as getting the right guy? If ya aint horny you aint horny. DUH

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Lindsey DTSW
.7 years ago

If it helps women who are unsatisfied with their sexual response to enjoy sex more, I see nothing wrong with it.

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Petra Luna
Petra Luna7 years ago

Why mess with nature? there are good natural alternatives.

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Sheri Peck
Sheri P7 years ago

I strongly believe that the female sex organ is the brain...

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Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago

While I would never take the stuff - waste of money; I think woman should have the option to take a female version. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Not that this pill is any good for you.

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