New Libido Drug for Women Raises Questions about Psychiatry

New Libido Drug for Women Raises Questions about Psychiatry

For years, drugs like sildenafil (sold as Viagra) have been used by men who have erectile dysfunction to achieve erections and to increase stamina. It is often assumed that women are less interested in sex than, and have ‘naturally’ lower libidos. Recently, however, a new drug called ‘Lybrido’ has gained some attention in the US press, even being dubbed as the ‘Female Viagra’.

Given the mechanics of the penis, it is clear why a drug like Viagra might be necessary when a man is unable to maintain an erection. Yet Lybrido, which is meant to increase women’s desire for sex (and increase blood flow to the clitoris) targets more the emotional and psychological response to sexual stimulation than the immediate appearance or behaviour of body parts.

The drug has been tested in trials already, but one psychologist told the Boston Globe that it is only effective with ‘a subgroup of women’. The drug contains small amount of testosterone, the principal male hormone thought to boost sexual desire. These same hormones are given to women in much higher doses when they have sex reassignment surgery, as testosterone is responsible for men’s voices being deeper, as well as the growth of body hair.

Even if a new drug does manage to help women who are experiencing decreased interest in sex, some have questioned the way in which psychiatrists spring for drug treatments when there could be many other factors causing sexual appetite to wane. An article in the New York Times mentions how open relationships, in which partners allow each other to have sexual encounters outside of the relationship, keep some couples’ sex lives exciting and varied so as to ward off boredom. The suggestion is that a waning of libido could be symptomatic of novelty wearing off.

The comments on the New York Times’ article on Lybrido provide an interesting read. One woman suggests that her own decreasing desire for sex is linked to ageing and possibly the excessive emphasis on sex in advertising – the excessive focus on sex fuels her own disinterest, she suggests. Others commentators, such as a woman who had a hysterectomy and found her desire for sex decreased, anticipate a drug that increases women’s sex drives.

Anastasia Filipenko is a health and wellness psychologist, dermatolist and a freelance writer. She frequently covers beauty and skincare, food trends and nutrition, health and fitness and relationships. When she's not trying out new skincare products, you'll find her taking a cycling class, doing yoga, reading in the park, or trying a new recipe.

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