The Pink Pill, Libido, & Women’s Equality in Sexual Health

From google images

Can you just see and feel the pink flags waiving across the United States this week? As a physician, woman, and brain health expert- I join the celebration in the women’s health community with the FDA approval of “The Female Viagra”. Flibanserin (owned by Sprout Pharmaceuticals) has been dubbed the “Pink Pill” or the “Female Viagra” in the media.

What is The Female Viagra?

Controversy has plagued the FDA and the makers of flibanserin for previous two years. The medication has been previously rejected for approval by the FDA because of concerns of unsafe side effects. Advocates of the medication and women’s health accused the male dominated FDA of ignoring the sexual health needs of women. To date 26 therapies are FDA approved for men’s sexual health. For women? ZERO. (These numbers are also hotly contested for opponents who did not support the “Even The Score” campaign)

Is there really hope for female libido?

As a mind-body medicine physician, the core of my message is that there is always hope for health. The state of our mind is powerfully connected to the physical health of our bodies, and sexual health is no different. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is a deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty. Prior to Flibanserin the only treatment available to women with HSDD (low libido) was: lifestyle changes, treatment of coexisting medical or psychiatric disorders, discontinuing medications that lower libido, hormone therapy and marital therapy. Despite these options various medical research show that 10 to 33% of women in the United States experience low libido (or HSDD)

Why is brain important in a woman’s libido?

Low libido in women has a strong association with low feelings of physical and emotional satisfaction and low feelings of happiness. Essential your mindset alters your libido. In our hyperconnected digital society, stress levels increase while the connection with our sexual partners decreased.

How does “The Female Viagra” work?

Using the term “female viagra” is a medical misnomer. Viagra acts to improve blood flow to the male genitalia. Flibanserin works on receptors in the brain. It is a 5HT1A agonist and a 5HT2A antagonist; it shares mechanisms in common with the antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug buspirone. As a 5HT1A agonist, it promotes dopamine release. But nobody is exactly how it elevates lust other than assuming Flibanserin works on dopamine levels in the brain to increase sexual desire.

The release of “female Viagra” is controversial in the medical community because the results are not thought to outweigh the risks and side effects. The most serious side effects are a dangerous drop in blood pressure and fainting. These side effects are worse when you have consumed alcohol.

What are other options to treat low libido in women?

In psychology literature, recommendations of relaxation techniques, marital counseling, and treating emotional disorders have all been reported to help HSDD. In integrative medicine the work is getting to the root cause of your symptoms, and low libido is complicated. There is a mixture of mental, emotional, and physical issues needing to be addressed. What do I mean? Are you chronically sleep deprived? Are your hormones balanced? Are other substances interfering with your libido (alcohol, medications, drugs)?

*Please note, Romila “Dr. Romie” Mushtaq, MD, ABIHM is a board certified physician specializing in neurology and integrative medicine. She has no financial or business relationship with Sprout Pharmaceuticals (the company that owns Flibanserin), although Dr. Romie considers the CEO, Cindy Whitehead one of her she-roes).

Romila “Dr. Romie” Mushtaq, MD, ABIHM is a traditionally trained neurologist with additional board certification in Integrative Medicine. She helps audiences and individual clients heal from stress-based illnesses and career burnout with her program Mindset Matters which is based in neuroscience, positive psychology, and mindfulness.

Dr. Romie writes at www.brainbodybeauty.com, where you can sign up to join her mindful living community and learn more about the medicine behind mindfulness. You can follow Dr. Romie on Twitter, Facebook and connect with her on LinkedIn.