Viagra for women?

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© Mina Chapman/Corbis

Some of the best inventions come about by accident—take corn flakes, for example, silly putty, or, of course, Viagra, which was originally designed as a heart medication. And now, in the tradition of accidental innovation, a team of U.S. researchers are hopeful that while their attempt to create a successful antidepressant for women was a failure, the medication’s unexpected outcomes might have some benefits in the bedroom.

The drug, called Flibanserin, was a flop when it came to treating depression, but when trial participants reported some strange side effects, astute researchers thought the medication could have other applications. Flibanserin has since been tested as a libido-enhancing drug for women in clinical trials in both the U.S. and Europe, and with exciting results, according to lead researcher Dr. John Thorp, from the University of North Carolina. In a study of more than 1,300 women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, those taking the drug experienced an increase in sexual desire, as well as more satisfaction in the bedroom—women taking Flibanserin reported an average of 4.5 “satisfying experiences” per month, compared with 3.7 women taking the placebo.

The medication, announced this week at a meeting of the Congress of the European Society for Sexual Medicine in Lyon, France, will be produced by German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, which hopes to earn approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within two years. The drug’s effects when taken along with antidepressants still need to be tested, but researchers are hopeful that it will emerge as nothing short of the woman’s answer to the “little blue pill.” As Thorp told the BBC:

“It’s essentially a Viagra-like drug for women in that diminished desire or libido is the most common feminine sexual problem, like erectile dysfunction is in men.”

Of course, Flibanserin has its detractors, including those who question what level of sexual drive is “normal” for women and whether a pill wouldn’t address underlying psychological or relationship issues that might be smothering sexual desire. Yet, considering that that as many as four out of every 10 women experience a dramatic dip in libido at some point in their lives, according to Mayo clinic estimates, whether or not the “little pink pill” will be a panacea for female sexual dysfunction may be beside the point. As with Viagra for men, Thorp says, the underlying goal is about increasing options for women struggling to find sexual satisfaction. As he told the Globe and Mail:

“It is in the mode of trying to alter or improve lifestyle, or quality of life.”

1 comments
ShiaLaRae
ShiaLaRae

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