Female libido pill may never get approved by the FDA

Feb 26, 2015 at 9:31 a.m. ET

A female libido pill has been in the works for years but hasn't received approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Which raises the question: Why is it taking so long to enhance women's sex lives when men have been chemically inducing erections for more than 15 years?

While the proposed drug for women isn't as straightforward as drugs like Viagra, the fact remains that a drug meant to help women enjoy sex hasn't exactly been on the front burner.

Flibanserin, manufactured by Sprout Pharmaceuticals Inc., affects the brain — not the sex organs. As with any drug, it isn't a magical pill. Side effects could include nausea and dizziness, and it isn't yet known if it will interfere with many antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Despite these risks, there's a clear need for women's sexual health to be addressed with the fervor dedicated to helping men achieve erections and have sex. "We live in a culture that has historically discounted the importance of sexual pleasure and sexual desire for women," Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told NPR.

Though the FDA says it hasn't acted as a result of any kind of bias, it's frustrating to see that when women don't enjoy sex, they're left feeling broken and responsible. Women crave sex and want good sex, but they can't swallow an erection pill and have at it. Why is medical treatment of women's sexual health lagging when men can easily obtain sexual wellness medications and have been able to for years?

It isn't because women's sex drives are so very mysterious that modern science can't figure them out. We're sending people to Mars. We can help women enjoy sex throughout their lives.

Women are being told that they're failing their marriages by not wanting sex, but they're not being supported in ways to heal and enhance their sex lives. Women are told to try therapy and to read sexy books. They're told to try wearing lingerie and to have a better body image and to stop reading fashion magazines. Women have to compete with surgically enhanced, hairless, objectified women in pornography that's become ubiquitous in our culture. Women are told to work out and sleep more often. They're made to feel responsible when sex doesn't feel good.

Men are told to get an erection — sometimes with the help of a pill — and to use that erection until orgasm is achieved. (Not her orgasm, though.)

In some cases, could it be that half of this equation needs to step things up in bed?

Hopefully flibanserin will be approved for women who choose to try medication to increase libido. In the meantime, women deserve respect when it comes to their sexual desires. Just because hormones and children and life can damper a woman's libido doesn't mean she should give up on sex when it's something she wants. Women shouldn't be told that lagging sex drives are a natural part of aging. No one tells aging men that maybe it's time to retire their boners. It should be just as socially acceptable and respected for women to want to achieve orgasm and enjoy sex as it is for men — throughout their lives.

Women deserve to have good sex. This shouldn't be up for debate.

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