by Nasimeh Yazdani, MD
Meet Addyi, the little pink pill that has sparked discussion, controversy, and a 1 billion dollar payout. Coined “The Female Viagra”, Addyi is a daily medication that is designed to restore lost sexual desire in women. The FDA, known for its harsh standards, rightly approved the Sprout Pharmaceutical drug, (generic name flibanserin) despite its side effects and usage restrictions. Harsh as it may be, the FDA knew it was time.
The recent release of this drug has caused me to think more about sexual health and the common misunderstandings that go along with it. The taboo topic is most often glossed over in the doctor’s exam room, but could be a very effective solution to treating many common health problems. Sex is responsible for boosting numerous aspects of physical and mental health, it can help relieve stress, help you sleep more soundly, improve your immunity, and not to mention, give you a modest cardio workout. So why don’t more doctors talk about the imperative health benefits that sex gives us?
In my practice, I see many patients who have given up on sex, complaining that themselves or their partners, have lost interest in the physical act. What worries me most is why they give up on sexual intimacy as well. Intimacy is at the heart of a healthy relationship, with a cooperative role in attainment of orgasm and sexual satisfaction.
Studies show that men have instinctually more physical triggers while women rely more on desire to have sex with their partner. Perhaps that’s why the little blue pill discovered by nobel prize winner, Dr. Louis Ignarro, was a perfect hit for men. Viagra hit the market in 1998 and helped millions of men potentiate those physical triggers in a mission to correct male sexual dysfunction. Nearly twenty years later, on October 17th, the female equivalent Addyi finally entered the market.
Addyi was created to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) – a condition characterized by a general low sexual desire that 40% women experience at some point in their lifetime. In a 24 week study conducted by the developer of Addyi, they found those who used Addyi had one more sexual encounter per month compared to the placebo. Addyi does nothing to stimulate blood flow, or affect hormones to increase sexual activity in women. It works on the pleasure center of the brain helping to stimulate sexual arousal and libido. The mechanism of action plays on the serotonin pathways, but is not fully understood. For women who have significantly low desire to have sex or are unable to be sexually aroused by their partner, this new drug can be a game changer. CEO of Sprout Pharmaceuticals, Cindy Whitehead believes the FDA’s decision was the right one stating “It has been a remarkable journey to get to this breakthrough moment. Today we celebrate what this approval means for all women who have long awaited a medical treatment option for this life-impacting condition. We applaud the FDA for putting the patient voice at the center of the conversation and for focusing on scientific evidence.”
We have long awaited an opportunity to openly talk about sex in the doctor’s exam room, covering topics from low desire or libido, to achieving overall optimization of one’s sex life. It is a critically important part of my patients’ physiology and well being, and we need to make more efforts to understand sexual health. Then, with medications or counseling fix the problems when they arise.
Addyi will be available at select pharmacies and providers beginning this month, and is expected to cost between $30 and $300 a month depending on coverage. Seaside Medical Practice is projected to be a certified provider for Addyi.