12 Things You Should Know About “Female Viagra”

Female Viagra isn’t news—a small, pink pill known as Addyi hit the scene a few years back. It was regarded as a female sex drive booster and now it’s back on the market with a new formula—but is it better? Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Why did it disappear in the first place? Once Addyi was made available the first time around, it was really highly priced and not many pharmacies stocked it. The drug company that manufactured it was also involved in a separate scandal, which affected the drug’s marketing.

So, what’s different? This time around, Addyi is being relaunched and sold for a much better price to help women boost their sexual satisfaction.

Who’s it for? Before you think that anyone can pop Addyi and benefit from feeling super-eager to have sex, it’s actually only meant for the few numbers of women who don’t have any interest in sex for a reason that can’t be isolated. In other words, women whose sex drives have dipped due to medication side effects shouldn’t take it. Some women don’t know why they just don’t feel in the mood, ever, and this pill is said to help them with that.

The condition is called HSDD. Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is the condition we’re referring to that some women suffer from. It can affect women of all ages— even women in their twenties. There are many underlying causes for low sexual desire, such as being on certain medications, having illnesses (such as cancer, diabetes, or arthritis, to mention a few), as well as emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression. HSDD affects roughly one in 10 women, according to The Society For Women’s Health Research.

How does one get an HSDD diagnosis? It’s not that easy. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a medical professional has to make the diagnosis and ensure that the person’s low libido is “not due to a coexisting medical or psychiatric condition, problems within the relationship, or the effects of a medication or other drug substance.”

There are other ways to treat HSDD. It’s not just about popping a pill to boost your sexual desire. Once you’ve been diagnosed with HSDD, your doctor might suggest counseling or taking estrogen therapy if the reason for your low sex drive is down to hormones. It’s also said that lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise and decreasing your stress levels, can help with sexual desire problems.

Addyi isn’t really female Viagra. Addyi is often mistakenly called female Viagra, but there are some important differences to know about. Viagra encourages blood supply in the body so that men can get and maintain erections. Addyi, on the other hand, increases a woman’s sex drive. How it works is that it targets neurotransmitters in the brain that are linked to sexual functions.

Does it work? There have been some interesting studies into Addyi’s effectiveness. A study from 2013 found that women experienced “significant improvements” in their level of desire. But then a 2016 study found the improvement was actually referred to as “minimal improvement to no change.” This meant that women only experienced one extra satisfying sexual event every 8 weeks.

It’s a high-maintenance drug. Women must take an Addyi pill every single day and they’re advised not to drink alcohol. This might be a bummer if you like to sip cocktails on the weekends as women are advised not to have more than two drinks, since the drug’s side-effects can be worsened by booze. The side-effects include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and low blood pressure.

It can be dangerous. Now that Addyi’s been relaunched, Sprout Pharmaceuticals Inc. has ensured that it can be bought with just an online prescription. This might seem like a good thing, but it can be dangerous, especially because you might not actually need it. As Dr. Stephanie Faubion, MD, the director of the Women’s Health Clinic and Office of Women’s Health at the Mayo Clinic tells Prevention, “It would be a mistake to encourage all women to try this drug. It won’t fix a relationship problem, an anxiety issue, or a body image problem. This is for true HSDD—low sexual desire that has persisted and is not due to another condition.”

It’s controversial. The Addyi pill is packed with controversy. It was actually rejected by the FDA twice before it finally gained approval, and critics of the drug claim that even though some of its trials were regarded as successful, it was still only a bit more effective than a placebo. During its trials, it was found that women who took Addyi had an average of 4.4 satisfying sex sessions every month, which isn’t that much more than the 3.7 sessions they were experiencing after taking a placebo.

It’s not a quick-fix drug. People might think that popping Addyi can have a similar effect as Viagra by making one feel ready for sex within an hour, but that’s not the case. The pill has to be taken daily because it can take up to eight weeks to give women results.

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