Strong demand for female libido-boosting drugs


Two out of three women are willing to buy and take a sexuality-boosting medication, according to a population survey

Swiss researchers have conducted a cross-sectional online survey to find out whether women are interested in taking sexuality-boosting medication to combat various sexual problems.

Currently flibanserin is the only relevant drug available in the US, having been approved for treatment of hypoactive sexual desire in 2015 – however it has not yet been approved in Australia.

Despite being commonly referred to as a “female Viagra”, flibanserin has completely different pharmacology to sildenafil since it was initially developed as an antidepressant.

The drug targets two neurotransmitters in the brain that can help inspire sexual desire: dopamine and norepinephrine.

Currently women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder are encouraged to pursue counselling and cognitive-behavioural therapy rather than pharmacotherapy.

Since flibanserin was met with low sales upon its approval by the FDA, despite heavy lobbying by women’s groups and medical organisations, curious researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland and Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand decided to find out the “real demand” for such a drug.

In a population sample of 159 Swiss women aged 18 to 73 years old, about two-thirds (61%) said they were “rather willing” or “definitely willing” to take a sexuality-boosting medication.

The results, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, reveal that 74% of those willing to take the drug said they would do so with the hope of more sexual satisfaction for themselves. Approximately half of participants (45.3%) hoped to have more fun with sex.

Women reporting lower sexual functioning across various domains (arousal, lubrication, orgasm and satisfaction) were more willing to try such a drug, as were younger women.

Over half of participants said they would prefer taking a sexuality-boosting medication in oral tablet form (58.3%), with 18% preferring oral drops, and the majority (88.5%) preferred the idea of taking it when having sex with a steady partner.

They would be willing to spend an average of about $13 (US$9.75) for an on-demand drug and $117 (US$88.33) for a long-term medication to be used over six months.

With such positive results, one wonders why the drug was met with low sales and apparent lack of interest, despite high levels of hypoactive sexual desire disorder among women.

The issue was one of misguided marketing, suggest the authors: upon approval, flibanserin was marketed to women with promises of higher frequency of sexual encounters and greater satisfaction for their partner.

Meanwhile, women in the survey clearly reveal more interest in making sex more fun, and having increased sexual satisfaction for themselves.

The authors urge other researchers with an interest in the field to gather larger datasets in order to gain further insight into the potential for sexuality-boosting medications.

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