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Tamara Schlesinger

The Female Viagra

We’re all aware of Viagra – that pill older men take to keep going during sex. But now it appears drug companies are furiously searching for its female counterpart, known commonly as ‘pink Viagra.’

It is unlikely that drug companies will market Viagra to older, menopausal women only. One of the unapproved and more popular drugs, Flibanserin, is marketed as a libido booster to physically healthy, pre-menopausal women. And while we’d all like to believe there is something out there to boost our sexual desire when we’re feeling a little low, the consensus amongst sexologists and researchers is that female Viagra is simply about profit margins and nothing more.

Psychiatrist Leonore Tiefer from the New York University School of Medicine told the Daily Mail, ‘If Flibanserin, or something like it, is approved, my fear is that all kinds of women – with or without sexual problems – will be tempted or pressured to take it.’

Clinical psychologist and psychosexual therapist Dr Claire Rockliffe-Fidler is adamant that female Viagra is a farce. ‘Viagra is not licensed for use in women and the results of studies done have been inconclusive.’

Dr. Marlene Wasserman agrees: ‘There is no female Viagra – not now and not in the foreseeable future. Viagra is in fact contra indicated for women, which means it cannot be prescribed for women.’

‘A woman’s sexual function is highly complex and her arousal is not only dependent on physical factors,’ says Rockliffe-Fidler, ‘but on many psychological and cognitive factors, such as are you focusing on stimulation, are you open to the idea of sex, and are you comfortable with yourself and your partner? People believe Viagra will enhance interest in sex, but this is not possible.’

Rockliffe-Fidler explains that Viagra assists the body with arousal (in a very small group of women), and not desire. The misconception, she says, is that if a woman’s arousal is enhanced, she will enjoy sex more. Not true! Viagra will not enhance arousal if there are psychological factors getting in the way, such as stress, demands and a diminished libido, says Rockliffe-Fidler.

Wasserman explains that the drugs being launched in the USA and Europe, have nothing to do with Viagra. ‘The new drug is in clinical trials and will only be available in South Africa in about three years time.’ Because it is being launched in the USA and Europe within the next year, she says, ‘we will be hearing a lot about it, so it is important that we educate the public way before the drug gets here.’

Liz Canner, director of documentary Orgasm Inc. is also trying to prove female Viagra is merely a money-making tool. ‘Basically, the drug companies are developing “sex aids” for which they can charge more money. Women would have to take this pill every day, which again, means more money for the companies.’ The pill’s ‘positive’ side effects aren’t exactly stimulating. ‘A drug, like Flibanserin, not only lowers your inhibitions, but will only guarantee you a 0.8 extra sexual event per month. You’re likely to have a better time drinking,’ says Canner.

‘When Viagra came out for men,’ explains Canner, ‘it was a blockbuster industry, and drug companies believe there will be a bigger market for women.’ What women don’t realise is these drugs will come with dangerous side effects, including cardio-vascular problems and even breast cancer. ‘Quite a few women developed breast cancer after they participated in the clinical trials in the US.’

Canner believes the ‘cure’ drug companies are trying to procure for female sexual dysfunction doesn’t come in a pill or a capsule, but rather through foreplay and a couple’s closeness. ‘The reality is they are nowhere near finding a proper drug – sexuality is much more complex than a pill or a patch.’

So, the results are in. If you’re physically struggling with arousal, you shouldn’t be looking to pharmaceutical companies for answers. Rather visit your gynaecologist, psychologist or sexologist before you start looking for a quick libido fix. Play together and, as Canner says, foreplay is key. And if that doesn’t turn you on, take Canner’s advice: ‘There’s nothing sexier than a man with a vacuum cleaner.’
Author: Lindi Brownell
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