Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Sexual Conditions Health Center

Font Size

'Female Viagra' May Treat Low Sexual Desire

Study Shows Flibanserin Cuts Distress, Increases Satisfaction for Some Women With Low Sexual Desire

Filbanserin's Effect on the Brain continued...

Flibanserin was designed as a treatment for depression. Like the SSRI class of antidepressants, it affects levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. But exactly how flibanserin affects sexuality remains unknown.

That's one of the things about flibanerin that bothers sex therapist and clinical psychologist Leonore Tiefer, PhD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

"Because flibanserin is a brain drug, they keep harping on this brain thing as if we understood the neuroscience of sexuality, which we don't. This is mythical science," Tiefer tells WebMD. "It is a drug that affects serotonin fiddling around in the brain, but where? They have no idea."

Tiefer notes that some antidepressants actually reduce sexual function, and that one, Paxil, carries a warning about increased risk of birth defects in women who become pregnant while taking the drug.

Krychman says flibanserin is "extraordinarily safe" in clinical trials.

"This gives hope to women who are suffering in silence and have distressing lowered sexual interest," he says. 

But Tiefer worries about this focus on desire rather than on relationships.

"If you ask women with low sexual desire what they are distressed about, most say it's the relational aspect of their sexuality -- it is not that they are distressed about the low desire itself," Tiefer tells WebMD. "Is flibanserin acting as an antidepressant, somehow sort of calming women down and making them less concerned about their relational problem? This question was not asked in the clinical trials."

Sex therapist Dorree Lynn, PhD, agrees with Tiefer that women's sexuality is not a simple matter of desire.

"The issue of whether female sexual desire is a medical diagnosis or whether it is a life diagnosis is going to be an endless debate," Lynn tells WebMD. "If you have more connection with your partner and the ability to sustain communications, desire continues. Benefits come from learning new skills, from increased intimacy, and from improved communication."

1|2

Today on WebMD

Sex Drive Killers 03
Slideshow
couple holding hands
Quiz
 
Couple in bed
Article
Condom Quiz
Quiz
 

HIV Myth Facts
Slideshow
STD Overview
Slideshow
 
Man tearing a condom packet
Quiz
things your guy wish you knew slideshow
Slideshow
 

Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
Girls Puberty 10
Quiz
 
Couple in bed
Article
Young couple holding hands
Quiz
 

WebMD Special Sections