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Female Viagra: 7 Things You Need to Know

Posted 3/16/2016 by UHBlog

Learn how a little pink pill can enhance a woman’s sexual desire. Ask us.

Female Viagra: 7 Things You Need to Know

“I’m in the mood for love” could be the theme song for Addyi, a revolutionary new drug that boosts a woman’s libido.

“Since it came on the market in October 2015, Addyi is the first FDA-approved treatment for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) in pre-menopausal women,” says psychologist Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD. “Addyi is prescribed for women who are distressed by having lost their sexual desire and are interested in having it restored.’

To understand how Addyi – generically known as flibanserin – works and to determine if it's the right drug for you, Dr. Kingsberg answers these seven questions:

  1. How is Addyi different than Viagra?
    According to Dr. Kingsberg, Viagra is about blood flow and is used on an as-needed basis. Addyi, on the other hand, is taken daily and works to rebalance brain chemistry that is a biologic cause for a woman’s low sex drive.
    “It is the first drug approved specifically for HSDD – and it's not hormonal therapy,” Dr. Kingsberg says.
  2. How does Addyi work?
    Similar to an antidepressant, Addyi influences neurotransmitters by releasing chemicals that transmit signals in between the nerve cells in your brain. When those chemicals, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, are released, the sexual desire center of the brain is improved.
  3. What is Hypoactive Sexual Desire (HSDD)?
    HSDD is defined as low sexual desire that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty and is not due to relationship problems, other medical conditions or side effects of medications.
    To determine if you have HSDD, Dr. Kingsberg recommends taking a short, easy-to-follow online quiz called "Decreased Sexual Desire Screener."
    “After taking the screener, a woman should see her family physician or OBGYN to discuss the possibility of taking Addyi if she is interested,” she says.
  4. Who can prescribe and dispense Addyi?
    Only doctors and pharmacists who have undergone online certification are legally permitted to prescribe and dispense Addyi. They are required to inform their patients about the need for complete sobriety while on Addyi because combining Addyi with alcohol may increase the risk of severely low blood pressure and fainting.
    “Also, Addyi should not be prescribed if a woman’s low libido is caused by a psychiatric condition, problems within the relationship and medication side effects,” Dr. Kingsberg says.
  5. When should Addyi be taken?
    Because of its potential side effects--which include fainting, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and low-blood pressure--Addyi is taken at bedtime.
    “Usually the side effects are mild and will go away within a week or so,” says Dr. Kingsberg.
  6. Why is Addyi considered a trail-blazing drug?
    “Studies show that 40 percent of premenopausal women have lost desire and about 10 percent of these woman are bothered enough to do something about it,” Dr. Kingsberg says. “That is why Addyi is a major turning point for women’s sexual health.”
  7. When will a woman know if Addyi is working?
    It usually takes four to eight weeks before a woman notices that the pill is effective.
    “When Addyi works, it works very well,” Dr. Kingsberg says. “It's not a magic pill that makes women think about sex 24/7, but it does restore a woman’s sexual appetite.”

Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD is an expert in human sexuality and Division Chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital. You can request an appointment with Dr. Kingsberg or any other University Hospitals doctor online.

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