Women deserve treatment for low sexual desire

Is sexism to blame?

Contributed by Lisa Larkin, MD, FACP, NCMP

pink pillsWomen deserve treatment options for low sexual desire

Hypo sexual desire disorder (HSDD), or a lack of sexual desire that causes emotional angst, is a real medical condition that affects one in ten adult women in the U.S.  That’s roughly 16 million women whose lives have been turned upside down by a medical condition. I say “turned upside down,” because research shows women suffering with HSDD experience significant declines in health, vitality and emotional fulfillment.  Worst of all, there are absolutely no treatment options available to help these women.

It’s time to end the double standard

There are currently 26 testosterone and erectile dysfunction drugs for men, all of them carrying some risk of side effects. Most recently, the FDA approved Xiaflex as a treatment for men with Peyronie’s Disease, a rare condition which causes a curved penis. Xiaflex’s possible side effects include  fracture or rupture of scar tissue, which can lead to erectile dysfunction, as well as penile swelling, bruising or pain. On the flipside, the FDA recently rejected flibanserin, a drug that focuses on balancing brain chemistry to improve desire, because its possible side effects—dizziness, fatigue and nausea—outweighed what it called the drug’s “modest” benefits. Shouldn’t women be given the same opportunity as men to make a choice about treatments that could possibly improve their sex lives?

It’s time to listen to women

As a women’s health specialist, I’ve seen the devastating toll of HSDD. What’s more, I firmly believe that what the FDA labels a “modest” benefit would have a significant positive impact on the lives of women suffering with this HSDD. Will flibanserin help all women with HSDD? No. But at least it’s a start. The ABC news program Nightline recently addressed the issue of sexism when it comes to the approval of drugs for women with lack of sexual desire. Please tweet Nightline or post a comment on its website is you feel women should have choices (just like men) to address sexual dysfunction.

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