Sex & Relationships

Female Viagra? Great! But It Might Not Be What Women Really Need

Can female sexual dysfunction be cured with a pill?

Get ready ladies: as of October 17, female Viagra will invade your pharmacy’s shelves. The FDA has approved a new drug, Addyi, which is manufactured by none other than Sprout pharmaceuticals. Isn’t that the cutest company name ever? Heart hands!

The invention of this drug is being treated as a feminist victory. The rhetoric is that men have many drug options when it comes to their boners, and we women have no lady boner drugs to take. Although on paper this seems like an injustice, in practice, it really isn’t. The claim of Addyi is that it addresses a loss of libido for women, and will actually increase their interest in sex. Currently, there is no drug on the market that is designed to address the sex drive of men.   

Drugs like Viagra weren’t created to address sexual desires inside a man’s brain. Viagra increases blood flow to the penis, and then said penis grows perpendicular. As a result of walking around with a hard-on, men usually come to the conclusion that it would be a good idea to stick their dick into someone. Viagra does not affect their emotional craving for sex, but rather suggests that the solid penis be pumped into a warm squishy place. The boner doesn’t make a man want to have sex more; he just sees it, and puts two and two together.

Perhaps women are slightly more nuanced with their sexuality? Call me old-fashioned, but if I weren’t in the mood for sex yet took a pill that suddenly created a uterine waterfall, I would probably just change my underwear and go about my day. Just because I have a sopping vagina doesn’t exactly mean I want to have something rammed in there. Perhaps the drug companies could design a drug that increases blood flow to the clitoris, but if it were to make my “little man in the canoe” grow just as Viagra does to the penis, no thank-you. That is the stuff nightmares are made of. 

The reason women don’t have a purely operative drug like Viagra is because we have a hole in our bodies, and said hole is always open. This isn’t to imply the hole is permanently primed and ready for entry, but there is sexy jelly that can ease that process. So if we are talking about pure functionality, Viagra = lube. I would assume, considering the risks of taking any drug (and there are many associated with Addyi), slapping on some sauce would be a safer choice.

The assertion that Addyi actually makes women want to have sex is unique. No male drug makes such a declaration. Yet according to the medical evaluation of this female Viagra, only 8-13% of women saw improvement. For women with low sex drives, that might be enough to inspire experimenting, but that’s a pretty low chance. The current medical paradigm relies on pharmaceutical pills to solve most health problems. Yet medications tend to cover up the symptoms, rarely addressing the root source of an issue. Every drug will have side effects to contend with. And there is nothing “side” about them. They are just effects that affect people. Some more than others, but nothing is without consequence.

Sexual desire is a deeply complex phenomenon that scientists are only scratching the surface of understanding. Addyi’s assurance that someone will desire sex more with a medication seems like a very bold promise, like giving someone a pill for spiritual enlightenment. If anything, you could take some ecstasy and want to screw, but get ready to spend the rest of your evening insisting your arm get tickled and talking about how much you love pillows. 

There are a variety of reasons beyond a biological deficiency that could affect one’s sex drive. Some people exist in monogamous marriages yet their sexual selves may not be monogamous. When you cut off a huge piece of your sexual identity to remain faithful, that will impact your desire. You can’t just squelch one part of you and not expect it to impact the rest. Sure, we all like banging at the beginning, yet after some time, lust fades. It has to; otherwise our kids would be traumatized. 

Some people don’t want to have sex because their partners are jerks. There is resentment, bitterness, fighting, yet they still feel the pressure to stay together. We hold onto people because we are scared to let them go; yet that doesn’t mean we want to fuck their brains out. Or you could be single and disenchanted with the dating scene, lack of intimacy, or guys named Asher who expect you to give them a blowie on the first date. There are many factors to consider when examining why a person’s sexual interest has waned. Ideally those reasons will be fully contemplated before creating a dependency on drugs.  

Of course there are women with purely physical issues, or who suffer from an extreme medical condition. Yet for most of us, sex is about psychology. We all go through phases of sexual interest, and there is much to learn emotionally from those ebbs and flows. For the majority of healthy women, problems of sexuality will not get solved by some over-the-counter miracle, but rather, by examining what is going on inside your mind, heart and vagina.

Toni Nagy writes for Huffington Post, Salon, Thought Catalog, Hairpin, Do You Yoga, and Elephant Journal. She has her own blog, and is the host of a podcast.

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