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Libido drugs for women, coming soon to a pharmacy near you

In my ongoing research to actually see if I can fix female libido issues, I struggle (like most other sex therapist, doctors, and women themselves), to find something that works. I swear by huge doses of Omega 3, Couple dark chocolate, zinc, coral calcium, and a good cleanse.  If your body’s natural state in optimal health is a great sex drive, then get it back to optimal health, with an emphasis on great serotonin and dopamine levels.

The pharmaceutical community has taken a different slant.  They are all racing towards a female Viagra, a magic bullet that turn women into raging nymphomaniacs.

Nobody had any real answers (much of the medication like testosterone supplements doesn’t work or puts hair on your chest – literally).  A few new drugs are just coming on the market such as Bupropion hydrochloride SR, PT-141, LibiGel or Intrinsa. Some are testosterone patches, some gels, PT-141 is a spray, and Bupropion is an anti-depressant that claims to increase the sex drive in women.  The Food and Drug Administration in the US is sceptically they work as yet, and I for one am concerned about the long term side effects of adding testosterone to women’s hormonal mix.

For many of my patients, adding the birth control pill has had a huge, prolonged effect on their libido.  So adding more pharmacological medicines didn’t seem like the best idea. If every cell in your body is poised to survive and reproduce, then being a frisky thing should be your natural state. Without using controversial medications that are as yet, unapproved, how do we increase sex drive in women?

I was reading a report about the PT-141, and as interesting a drug as it seems, there was as many significant results from social issues experimenting with this drug on rats as there were from the effects of the actual drugs themselves.

Here’s the quote:

"The funny thing is, it appears there’s a certain human like subjectiveness to the sex life of lab animals as well. When Jim Pfaus tested PT-141 on his female rats, he based his experimental design partly on the work of Raul Paredes, a fellow rat sexologist testing the effects of something more elusive: personal autonomy. That’s a tricky thing to measure, but it can be done. Paredes did it like this: first, he looked at rat couples living in standard, box-shaped cages and recorded the details of their sexual behaviour. Then, he altered the cages in only one particular: he divided them into two chambers with a clear wall broken only by one opening, too small for the males to get through but just right for the females. Architecturally it was a minor change, but what it did for the females was huge. It let them get away from the males whenever they chose to, and thereby made it entirely their choice whether to have sex. Paredes then observed the rat’s behaviour in this altered setting. Here’s what he found: the effects of giving a female rat greater personal control over her sex life are essentially the same as those of giving her PT-141. Autonomy, in other words, is as real an aphrodisiac as any substance known to science.

This doesn’t surprise Leonore Tiefer, who sees evidence for it every working day, in sex lives that suffer in direct proportion to her client’s ignorance about desire in general and their own in particular. For Tiefer, striving to understand yourself is the sexiest sort of autonomy there is, and nothing betrays that autonomy like handing over the job to someone else, whether it’s your lover, your doctor, or, worst of all, big pharmaceutical companies.

Jim Pfaus, not surprisingly, sees things a little differently. As it happens, Pfaus and Tiefer are friendly acquaintances, and he’s sympathetic to her critiques of the industry.

‘She’s on a roll, and I think she has some valid points,’ says Pfaus. But all the same: ‘What do we tell post menopausal women who have lost their desire, despite being in a loving and caring relationship? "Sorry, there’s nothing we can do," or worse, "Sorry, but you shouldn’t be having sex anyway"?’

The argument is a strong one. But so is Tiefer’s. Each defends a vital sort of autonomy – the power of self-knowledge on the one hand; on the other, the freedom to grasp whatever tools of self-improvement are available to us. And if, after all the trials are done and the prescriptions are filled, PT-141 diminishes the former as much as it expands the latter, who’s to say which matters more? Add up all the pluses and minuses, and in the end the sum may be zero.

Fascinating research, but not great news for women. My advice? Stop beating yourself up, get more sleep, and pass out the dark chocolate. My kind of medicine.