The Problem with the Female 'Viagra'

So the FDA, has approved a female version of the drug Viagra commonly prescribed for men – particularly older men with erectile dysfunction or other, typically age-related, sexual dysfunction. And the issue of male virility is certainly something that has an emotional impact on men and relationships in general. To this end, we have over emphasized and put a spotlight on this definition of youthful manhood in a way that now pressures men to have to resort to a risky pharmaceutical to amplify their current libido and performance. The interesting point with drugs like Viagra and Cyalis is that the highest prescriptions of these drugs are given to men under 50 that are experiencing ED and other side effects primarily as a side effect of growing porn addiction and use. (see my previous post on how porn changes the brain or look up Norman Doidge).
As much pressure as we have put on men to perform and be ‘manly’ or prove their manhood in this way, we have an even longer history of pathologizing female libido. If women don’t want it – it’s a dysfunction. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. So of course, money makers have found a pill – fraught with side effects to “fix” women around globe. Hooray!
I mean Boo. Here’s the thing… we continue to miss looking for the root cause of any given issue. Libido is affected by many things including temperament, early childhood experience, emotional and mental health, physical health, relationship dynamics, disease, and more. But why bother looking at the cause – here’s a pill to just make you feel more amorous. How much more amorous? Their own studies are showing that this means women with low libido might have sex one extra time per month. Per. Month. What? Really?
I’d prefer to investigate this issue – and it is an issue that we should take seriously because healthy sexual desire and experience in our relationships is very important and not just to measure up to our partner’s expectations, sense of entitlement or satisfaction, but for women too. Women generally love sex as much as men – if there are some that want it less, let’s look at the reasons rather than just medicating them with something that affects the entire central nervous system like this drug flibanserin does.
Ludicrous! I know. I like it like that. The truth is… a woman’s libido will be low for a variety of reasons. Anything in particular that causes her brain to be in fight or flight mode like trauma, stress, sickness, etc. diverts all functions – particularly within the endocrine system into survival mode-  reprioritizing sex and the supportive hormones required for natural desire with it. You’re fighting against your own nervous system to try and override that and often that creates more stress. Add to that the tension mismatched libidos can cause in a relationship and you can expect her libido to continue to decrease. Women want sex for sure, but our body’s will not support that function if our nervous system is dysregulated, if we’re under stress, and if we’re being pressured for sex. Much of that is biological – the body is protective – it will not support desire for procreation if it is perceived that the environment – either internal or external is not safe to support life. It doesn’t matter that we’re using forms of birth control to prevent that – we’re talking basic instincts here.
Relationship trauma or an unhealthy relationship as well as pregnancy and postpartum are all common reasons for libido interruption. Think about it in particular for pregnacy/postpartum- again, biologically, our body’s are not wired at that time for procreation because we have completed the task. The hormone cocktails to support life within our bodies and outside of it in those newborn days are not the same cocktail for the biological urge to procreate. This is typical of many mammals and we like to think we’re so smart that we can override biological impetus of being animals…but we can’t always trump the nervous system.
The fact of the matter is women are reporting more stress and side effects of stress than ever and that’s changing our brains and depleting our systems and that’s really where we should start working. Depression and anxiety are common plagues for women and those too, along with the medications to treat them, cause sexual ‘dysfunction’ (if we even want to call it that).
What I’m getting at is that obviously MANY factors impact libido. Some women are not affected by these as much as others but many are and they get blamed and shamed and sent to the doctor to diagnose a ‘dysfunction’. That’s not going to improve the situation either. And a pill – well you might get one more time a month and a host of side effects, but you’re not dealing with the issue. Dealing with the root issues and abolishing this idea that someone gets to decide what “normal” female sex drive is, is a good start. I’m obviously a proponent of dealing with the root cause through therapy and a combination of natural medicine where required. I’m not a fan of accepting pill therapy that’s only designed to further shame women and pathologize their libidos while lining the pockets of likely some old men.
Mismatched libidos in relationship – we can work on that in therapy too – because it’s common in almost every relationship that one person would want it more than the other. How that’s handled in a relationship and communicated has a huge impact on outcome. No one is entitled to having every need met in a relationship sexual or otherwise and no one, male or female, gets to say what’s normal or shame their partner for being different. We don’t need that out of relationships either. This, like male ED and dysfunction, is a personal issue and like anything sexual, the flipside of joy and bliss can be shame and guilt. Not handled properly good relationships can end and women can be left feeling depressed with low self worth. These are things a pill can’t fix.
You get to own your normal. If you want it to be different, see a functional medical doctor, naturopath, homeopath, and a therapist to hunt down the root cause and work through it. Balance your hormones, support a healthy body and mind, repair your relationships and only stay in healthy ones. Let’s start talking about this in a different way but for goodness sakes, let’s stop shaming women for too little or too much desire. We’ve had centuries of it, beginning with being called hysterical. It might be time for a new approach – and this little pill ain’t it.
This article from The Guardian has a great wrap up of this same topic.
 

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