The Debate Over ‘Pink Viagra’

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Jan 12, 2015

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Debate on a Viagra for women is heating up again. Viagra, the commercial name of an erectile dysfunction drug for men, has been around for years, but a drug for women’s sexual dysfunction is nowhere to be found. Until now? Flibanserin, or ‘pink Viagra’ (of course) will come under scrutiny by the United State’s Food and Drug Administration early this year.

But flibanserin isn’t exactly the female equivalent of Viagra. Sexual dysfunction can generally be separated into two categories: arousal issues (you want to have sex, but your body won’t physically respond), and desire issues (your body can become aroused, but you’re not interested in sex). Viagra corrects the former, affecting blood flow and allowing men’s bodies to respond where desire already exists. Flibanserin, interestingly, targets the latter and affects the brain, actually creating desire. The debate is whether low or no sexual drive is actually a physical problem that requires medication.

The Atlantic‘s full article is worth a read, but briefly: One study cited in the article suggests yes—if it is causing the woman distress. But in another study cited, “… researchers noted that the women surveyed were more likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction if they had unsatisfying personal experiences and relationships—something a pill can’t solve.” Regardless, flibanserin doesn’t seem like the female equivalent of Viagra to us, as it doesn’t help women who suffer from arousal problems, such as pain during intercourse or the inability to orgasm. But that’s not to say it wouldn’t be helpful.

We’re so used to medical diagnoses being black and white, that it’s a bit confusing that this is so subjective – what is a distressingly low sex drive for one woman, may not be for another. But this means it’s even more important that we discuss it, and it’s heartening to read that the FDA held a  “public summit on female sexual dysfunction—and what the medical community should do about it” in October of last year.

So tell us your thoughts in the comments—do you think no/low sex drive requires medication? Would you take flibanserin? Is it a matter of equality—Viagra exists for men, therefore women should have sexual dysfunction medication? Or is it purely monetary—a manufactured drug, for a manufactured problem?

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Written By Liesl Goecker

Liesl Goecker is The Swaddle’s managing editor and has been living and writing in Mumbai since 2010. She is passionate about women’s rights, everyone’s health, and caffeine.

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