Men have Viagra. But what about women with low libido?
June 12, 2000 -- The gods of sex have blessed men with Viagra, but what good is it if their female partners have lost interest?
Traditionally, men's sexual problems have gotten the lion's share of attention, prompting remedies from Viagra to vacuum erection pumps to penile implants. The focus has been mainly on men despite the fact that women are more likely to have sexual troubles. A survey published in the February 10, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 43% of 1,749 women had complaints about sexual functioning, compared with 31% of the 1,410 men surveyed. Subjects ranged in age from 18 to 59. The women reported low sexual desire, problems with arousal, and pain during intercourse. And these problems increase with age, experts say.
By Kimberly Goad
As Amanda Clark, 33, a caterer from Boston, walked down the aisle toward her fiancé, wearing a $15,000 gown and a 7-carat ring, she felt nothing but dread. I don't want to go through with this, she thought, with each step toward the altar.
Just two hours before the ceremony, Clark had gone for a dip in the ocean with her two sisters. When it was time to get ready, Clark wouldn't budge. "I couldn't get out of the water," she says. "It was like knowing you have a work meeting...
Why has research on women's sexual dysfunction, as it's medically known, lagged in the first place? It's partly due to the difficulty of defining the problem. Even though impotence in men can be organic or emotional, the inability to obtain or maintain an erection is often the target for therapy. In women, sexual problems can get more complicated. They can include, for instance, a lack of desire, insufficient lubrication, an inability to reach orgasm, or pain during intercourse. The causes can be physical, such as poor circulation, or emotional, such as stress or depression.
Finding remedies has also been a challenge because drugs that boost men's sex lives may do nothing for women's. A recent study of Viagra in women, released at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, showed that it worked no better than a placebo in improving sexual response.
Lately, however, as researchers have discovered more about the types and causes of women's sexual problems, the outlook is becoming brighter. New drugs are in development specifically for women's sexual problems. And a new clitoral suction device, meant to enhance blood flow, has been approved by the FDA.
Though many of these remedies for women's sexual problems are months or even years away from druggists' shelves, there are still avenues to relief right now -- if a woman doesn't give up easily and finds the right doctor.