Flibanserin: It’s Getting Complicated.

Women’s sexual desire is complicated. Part psychology, part relational, part cultural and part biological, sexual desire is also uniquely individual. While sex therapy helps many women reclaim desire some women feel that the physical part of the problem requires medical intervention. 

Flibanserin is a medication that has been before the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) twice, trying to gain approval as the first medication for low desire in women (there is no medication for low desire in men- Viagra and Cialis are drugs for erectile dysfunction). 

Perhaps it will be third time lucky as the advisory panel voted to recommend approving flibanserin (the FDA will vote on this recommendation in August). But the approval was tepid at best with serious concerns being raised by the panelists about safety and side effects given the very modest improvement in desire that results from daily use of this drug. 

Flibanserin was originally developed as an antidepressant and works by increasing the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine and decreasing levels of serotonin. This is a non-hormonal drug. It acts on the brain. But the very modest improvements in sexual desire that result seem to indicate that Flibanserin doesn’t really address the root biological cause for low desire. And it certainly won’t help with psychological or relational issues. 

We will wait and see what the FDA decides given the advisory committee voted to recommend approval only if measures are taken to reduce the risks of side effects. At present more experts are weighing in on the side of caution. Stay tuned.