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I got a social disease!

August 19, 2015

Ladies, the moment you have all been waiting for is here!  No, not affordable childcare.  Not equal pay for equal work. Not gun control.  Not abortion rights or paid maternity leave or a female majority in Congress or a constitutional ban on the word “chicklit”.  Girls, it is so much better than all that.  We got pink Viagra!

Flibanserin.  Catchy name.  Addyi for short.  Approved by the FDA for that horrible disease called Hypoactive Sexual Desire or, for clarification, Inhibited Sexual Desire, Sexual Aversion, or Sexual Apathy.  The New York Times Health Guide defines this “disorder” in the following way: (

Inhibited sexual desire refers to a low level of sexual interest.  A person with ISD will not start, or respond to their partner’s desire for, sexual activity.  It often occurs when one partner does not feel intimate or close to the other.  Communication problems, lack of affection, power struggles and conflicts, and not having enough time alone together are common factors.  ISD can also occur in people who’ve had a very strict upbringing concerning sex, negative attitudes toward sex, or traumatic sexual experiences.

No way.  You can take a pill for the disorder called Brought Up Baptist?  Here’s more:

Illnesses and some medications can also contribute to ISD, especially when they cause fatigue, pain, or general feelings of malaise.  Commonly overlooked factors include insomnia or lack of sleep, which can lead to fatigue.

Wait.  Is the problem that I have Inhibited Sexual Desire or that I just want to go the f%^$# to sleep?

The FDA actually rejected Addyi twice, in 2010 and 2013.  The reasons cited included the fact that it doesn’t really work.  Women who took it didn’t experience an increase in desire on a daily basis, but did have one more “satisfying” sexual experience per month than the placebo group.  Plus, it has side effects, like low blood pressure, fainting, nausea, dizziness, and, hilariously, sleepiness.  And, it has a boxed warning that the drug should not be used by people who drink.  Which is problematic, to say the least.  But, no worries.  The pink Viagra can only be prescribed or dispensed by practitioners who have watched an online slide presentation and passed a test of their comprehension.  So, thank God for that thorough education at least.

So why did the FDA decide to approve Addyi this time?  The same reason children are still getting gunned down in elementary schools: lobbying money.  Plus the deployment the biggest money word there is: Sexism.  Some women’s groups have accused the FDA of sexism for not approving a women’s libido pill while sanctioning a men’s version.  Or rather, a few vocal women have.  Prominent Washington feminists, together with the (female) co-founder and CEO of Sprout Pharmaceuticals (the company that makes the pill), the president of the National Organization for Women, and the help of a public relations company, managed to convince some people in Washington that the FDA was being discriminatory.   A very effective social lobbying campaign sealed the deal.

What all these feminists have missed is the very sexist labeling of yet another normal human female function as a “disease”.  Men can get Inhibited Sexual Desire, too, but no one is talking about that “problem”.  (Viagra, by the way, is not a libido enhancer.  It is an erection enhancer.)  All of this looks very much like a mirror image of the Victorian-era belief that women should, in the immortal, and paraphrased, words of Queen Victoria, “lie back and think of England.”

Low sexual desire in women is, if it is a problem at all, a symptom, not a disease.  Some women don’t desire sex and are fine with it.  For everybody else it is a normal response to normal life problems.  But, hey.  Maybe there’s a pill for that too.


From → Healthcare

  1. Darrell permalink

    Several years ago, I was part of a group of benefits professionals gathering in our state capital in order to lobby the legislature. I was asked to be one of the speakers at a meeting before we fanned out and started button-holing lawmakers. During my remarks, I was ad-libbing and casting about for some condition that I could use which would clearly never be a problem. In short, I wanted something that health insurance didn’t need to cover because it was just so unlikely to ever be needed.

    On the fly, I said, “For example, I doubt that we’ll ever need to worry about spending much money on sexually-transmitted diseases in retirement communities”.

    At the end of my remarks, a nice lady of mddling years tentatively raised her hand and I took note and called on her.

    She said, “Sir, my grandmother lives in [a well known area of Central Florida with a population of about 100,000+ and lots of golf carts] and she tells me that they’re having an epidemic of STD’s. I was nonplussed. I had no snappy reply. Until then, I had been blissfully unaware that the seniors were so engaged.

    Even though, given the longevity differences in genders, women outnumbered men significantly in that area, the advent of ED drugs such as Viagra had changed the culture. Now, with recovered functionality, the outnumbered males were obviously striving valiantly to do their part. So much, in fact, that STD’s spread quickly and widely.

    If there’s a moral to this story, it is that the invention and distribution of drugs can change society. I suppose we only have to look at birth control pills, vaccines and antibiotics to realize that. I’m still embarrassed that the lady had to publicly correct me–but she was right to do so. I thought I knew something–but clearly I did not.

  2. When I was in family practice, I frequently saw women whose chief complaint was “no sex drive.” I believe that physiologic lack of sex drive is probably quite rare. Most of the women I saw with that complaint were working mothers who were tired, stressed and just too busy, and/or had some other medical problem which impacted their sexual desire. Unfortunately, that was too complex to sort out and fix in 15 minutes and as with many medical problems, once they found out there was not a quick fix, they didn’t bother to follow up. It’s good that we have pills that help a lot of problems, but folks need to know that not everything can be.

    • Yes. It is hard for someone who already has too much on their plate to hear. “If this one thing were better…” But it never is just one thing.

  3. Agree with dr. Oglesby. It’s such a complicated issue. Most new moms are tired and just want to sleep. They don’t desire sex, and, for most of them, they are fine with that. It’s the husbands and the society that tells them they SHOULD want it. They are often relieved to know they are not alone in their lack of desire.
    I don’t think this drug is the answer. First of all , taking it daily!? one more sexual experience per month? Was that even statistically significant? And don’t take it with alcohol? How many women are going to have sex without having a drink first?
    Don’t know if I’ll go through the “training” to prescribe it– but I know I’ll be talking a lot of women out of it.

  4. ” ISD can also occur in people who’ve had a very strict upbringing concerning sex, negative attitudes toward sex, or traumatic sexual experiences.”
    Oh those nasty Christians with their Victorian/mediaeval ideas about chastity. They need to get with the times.
    Sorry folks, it’s the culture that’s sick, not the patient. The first step to the cure for ISD is to abstain from and stop listening to the insane pop culture.

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