Could Flibanserin be the answer for low libido women? Perhaps, says Terry Gibbs, DO, an OB-Gyn and director of the Midlife Center for Women’s Health at ProMedica Flower Hospital.
Dr. Gibbs says the issue of decreased sexual desire in women is fraught, to say the least. “To equate flibanserin with Viagra is really not correct,” Dr. Gibbs says. “For one thing, Viagra affects only the physical by causing an erection; it doesn’t affect men’s sexual desire or drive at all. Women’s systems are so much more complex than men’s. Looking for a medicine that affects this behavior is more difficult.”
There’s a real push, Dr. Gibbs says, to come up with something to address the problem. “There’s a whole lot of interest in finding a medicine to address women’s decreased desire because men have meds that help them. There have been other medications the FDA did not approve and if this medication doesn’t get approved there is a concern that drug companies will not invest any more in the development of these drugs.”
Dr. Gibbs says flibanserin increases certain neurotransmitters, the chemicals in the brain that affect behavior. The problem is, there’s not just one thing that makes a woman desire to have sex. “There’s no quick fix,” he says.
Flibanserin was tested on both pre- and post-menopausal women for 24 weeks, using a control group which received a placebo, Dr. Gibbs explains. “The groups receiving the drug showed significant positive changes in meaningful sexual activity.” It was also found there were no significant side effects, he says.
Side effects or not, before requesting a prescription for this drug, women should be evaluated by a doctor, a nurse practitioner or a sex therapist who understands and treats sexual dysfunction. “There’s just a long list of things that can kill the libido,” Dr. Gibbs says. This may include vaginal dryness, a change in a woman’s feelings for her partner and certain medications, to name a few.
It’s important, Dr. Gibbs adds, that women don’t simply assume they will correct all causes of low libido with a pill. As mentioned, there may be other causes that can be corrected that would positively affect libido. “We look for biologic, psychologic and social reasons that impact a libido, and not all are fixed with one medicine. However, flibanserin, if approved, will be a great tool in helping women.”