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Trina Read


Drug Companies Are Cashing in on 'Low Libido'

Posted: 03/24/2014 12:25 am

Low libido one of the most common problems presented in sex therapy. It is estimated that approximately 20 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women are affected by low or absent sexual desire.

But in trying to seize an opportunity are drug companies selling a product that women don't need?

Why do pharmeceutical companies want to 'help' with female low libido?
Although there isn't anything inherently wrong with drug companies wanting to help women with a low libido, we do need to understand their motivation.

There is a race by the drug companies to get a female libido enhancing 'pink Viagra' to market. Of course it could mean billions of dollars in shareholder profit. In the long line of attempts over the years Boehringer Ingelheim developed Flibanserin; however, the drug company dropped efforts in 2010 after being declined by the FDA who requested more research.

A smaller drug company, Sprout, took the work over in 2011. They resubmitted an application and were once again declined by FDA. However in the mean time there have been many credible news outlets citing a condition called: hypoactive sexual desire disorder or HSDD. Although purely speculation, it seems Sprout was doing the necessary behind the scenes PR before unveiling its new drug.

HSDD is no longer a 'real condition'?
May 2013 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM 5 changed the diagnosis of low libido. It replaced "hypoactive sexual desire disorder" with "sexual interest/arousal disorder". A big reason it was replaced is the condition of HSDD had too broad a definition, "An absence of sexual fantasies and desire for sexual activity." As well, the HSDD model was derived from studies on predominantly male subjects.

Has the terminology changed but the thinking around HSDD stayed the same?
HSDD was based on a linear male model, stating desire precedes arousal in the form of fantasizing, yearning, and looking forward to the experience -- a.k.a. 'spontaneous' desire. The challenge with this 'spontaneous desire' framework is it is infrequent in many functional and satisfied women, especially those in established relationships.

For many women arousal is responsive, occurring at some point after she has chosen to engage in the experience. Moreover, studies confirm women mostly accept or initiate for reasons other than desire: for example to increase the couple's emotional bond, or as a response to a romantic setting.

Which calls into question: is the estimated number of women with a 'desire disorder' really accurate because we still expect women to have 'spontaneous desire' rather than 'responsive desire'.

Have the pharmaceutical companies over diagnosed low libido by relying too heavily on the condition of HSDD?
In 1998 when Viagra came on the scene, it was a credible product because it helped male sexual dysfunction. Drug companies knew they needed a female sexual dysfunction condition to credibly sell her a product. Which is why they ran with the HSDD model.

There are many desperate women who would love after an endless day of work, taking the kids to soccer, making supper and cleaning up, to simply take a pill and be in the mood for sex. Currently, non-FDA approved libido enhancing drugs are a major dollar industry.

In trying to seize this opportunity what we see from drug companies are well orchestrated marketing blitz which has little to do with science. Even though no data has been released and no breakthroughs have been discovered, what the public hears through news releases is: women with a lack of desire suffer from emotional distress, and it is a common crisis within their relationship.

What we need to ask is: why are drug companies investing heavily in research, surveys and patient registries to indicate there is a disorder, while at the same time creating medication to treat this condition.

But a lack of desire is a big couple contentious issue
Sexual desire is elusive and a difficult thing to define. Lack of libido is not a simply a checklist of things and if you check all the boxes you can be prescribed medication.

Many women and men do report dissatisfaction with sex, but that does not mean they are dysfunctional. More likely it is due to a variety of interrelated factors be it physical, psychological and social.

A smaller percentage of men and women do experience sexual problems causing them distress, discomfort and dissatisfaction. Although they need attention it is neither a clinical condition nor dysfunction, and it is wrong for the drug companies to manufacture a precondition.

What are some every day things that can affect a women's libido?
Because there is so little factual sex ed in our society, we are instead bombarded with Cosmo type titillating articles about how to improve your sex life. It leaves the majority feeling that if you have low libido you are abnormal. When in truth, there are so many obstacles getting in the way to feel spontaneous or even responsive desire.

Something as simple as: if you've had a fight in the morning, chances are no nookie will happen that night. Did you just have a baby? Are you in peri-menopause or menopause?

Other things that heavily contribute are: Do you have good communication with your partner? Do you have a healthy sexual self-esteem? What were messages in your upbringing?

There are also external things like: Birth control pills, antidepressants, allergy meds, alcohol, high cholesterol, thyroid problems. Also chronic sleep deprivation -- which affects many people -- messes with your hormones and hits your libido like a torpedo.

What is the bottom line on libido and libido-enhancing drugs?
The chances are slim that one day women can take a pill which will overcome the complex myriad of things that make up her will, want and desire to have sex.

Instead couples need to roll up their sleeves and talk about the plethora of different solutions/ options available. And also be aware by accepting a band-aid solution like a low libido pill thereby medicalizing sexual libido, it will only serve to restrict her sexual desire in the long term.


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  • Olivia Munn

    "I know a lot of people have a hard time talking dirty -- they don't know what to say, how to start, or when to end it. Also, at first they will think they sound ridiculous. And they might. But let me just say that talking dirty is so important in sex. And it's pretty easy. To wit: Establish from the very beginning that you like this. And trust me, you want to do it early on. Because if you wait too long to introduce the concept, your Special Lady Friend will be a little thrown and might not take you seriously."

  • Christina Aguilera

    "I'm an artist, and expressing myself in a sexual way, no matter how that changes throughout the years, is something that has always come naturally to me. At this point of my life, I'm 32 and I feel sexier than ever because you know what you want."

  • Robin Thicke

    "I like to try to get her into double-digit orgasms as much as possible. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when I’ve got my mojo and my swag, it happens. Every few months it’s just like bam -- repeated. Repeated! I like her to just be going crazy in the bedroom."

  • Ari Graynor

    "I think [rebound sex] is a great idea. I think it's like the only way, if you can manage it... I've been on both sides and sometimes it's like great, that's the way out, and other times it's like a dry spell for months and months."

  • Nick Cannon

    Cannon <a href="http://www.tmz.com/2012/12/11/nick-cannon-mariah-carey-sex-music-hero/">admits that he makes love to Mariah Carey</a> while listening to her music, adding that he will masturbate to her tunes "when she's not there." "Sometimes there's special nights when you turn the music on and sometimes it's morning, you roll over and get it poppin'!"

  • Rashida Jones

    "I think [sex with an ex is] a good idea when you know that you're not going to see them again or call them again. If it's ex-sex with the hopes of it not being over, you're screwed. Ex-sex is also a good idea when there's unfinished business, like maybe when it's subtly hate sex, or let-me-show-you-how-much-I've-learned-in-the-past-couple-years sex."

  • Cameron Diaz

    "You have to really enjoy [being sexy]. Not fake anything. Sexy is being in the moment, whether that means being coy or coming on hard. Faking is always lame and it never comes across the way you want it to."

  • Enrique Iglesias

    During a meet and greet with fans in Miami, Iglesias revealed his best assets are not kept in his pants. Asked what he likes to do in his free time, the singer replied: "I go skinny-dipping if there are no paparazzi around." Further asked where he goes to swim in his birthday suit, he replied, "I'm not going to tell you because it would ruin my career. There's not a lot to show off." Later, he was asked about his worst defect. "My worst defect is from my waist down," he said. "I’m sorry, no, that’s not my worst defect ... but it is a little curved."

  • Geri Halliwell

    When a Spice Girls fan tweeted at Ginger: "Hello Geri, it's my 30th Birthday today can I please have a Birthday tweet :) xxxxx," Halliwell decided to get creative. "Happy birthday!" she wrote, then added: "Don't tell anyone, i had my 1st worthy orgasm at 30."[sic]

  • Jada Pinkett-Smith

    Jada and Will have been married for 16 years and have two young children, but they know how to keep the spark alive. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/16/jada-pinkett-smith-have-s_n_216427.html">Jada told Redbook in 2011</a>: "Be sneaky... your girlfriend's house at a party. The bathroom. A bedroom. Think of places outside that are comfortable to have sex. Does he have access to his office? Have a fantasy date. Be his secretary! Pull over on the side of the road... Just switch it up."

  • Heidi Klum

    "Some people are more experimental in bed and others are more boring. If you are wild and crazy, bring it on so the other person is well aware that you have little devil horns that come out every once in a while," <a href="http://www.marieclaire.com/celebrity-lifestyle/celebrities/heidi-klum-feature?click=pp">she confessed to Marie Claire</a>, adding, "It’s good to make an effort to dress up sometimes, to do things outside of the norm."

  • Kyra Sedgwick

    The actress told Good Housekeeping <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/kyra-sedgwick-kevin-bacon-doesnt-lie-doesnt-cheat-sexy_n_2270357.html?utm_hp_ref=celebrity">she and Kevin Bacon have spiced up their love life</a> now that children Travis, 24, and Sosie, 21, have headed off to college: "There's a lot more walking around the house naked," Sedgwick confesses.

  • Gwyneth Paltrow

    Paltrow was a guest on Chelsea Handler's late night show, where the host chose to embarrass her with a candid story. "She's an amazing advice-giver," Handler told the audience, relating an anecdote from a recent dinner party. "One of her friends is like 'I got into a big fight with my husband and I went home and I just wanted to scream and yell.' And you were like, 'Whatever you're doing, do the opposite. If you feel angry, go at him with love and you give him a b---j--.'" No we know what happens when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow fight...

  • Olivia Wilde

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/olivia-wildes-vagina-monologue-jason-sudeikis_n_1951973.html"> The actress revealed she and Jason Sudeikis "have sex like Kenyan marathon runners."</a>

  • Cameron Diaz

    "The fountain of youth [for me], let's see...I guess it's exercise, healthy diet, lots of water, lots of laughter, lots of sex," <a href="http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2010/06/01/cameron-diaz-july-vogue-2010-cover">Diaz told Vogue in 2010</a>, adding, "yes, sex, we need that as human beings. It's healthy, it's natural, it's what we are here to do!"

  • John Mayer

    Remember when Mayer couldn't keep his mouth shut about his sex life with ex-girlfriend, Jessica Simpson? "Sexually it was crazy. That's all I'll say," <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/john-mayer-jessica-simpson-was-crazy-2010102">he told Playboy in 2010</a>, "It was like napalm, sexual napalm. Did you ever say, 'I want to quit my life and just f**king snort you? If you charged me $10,000 to f**k you, I would start selling all my s**t just to keep f**king you?'"

  • Lamar Odom

    "You can tell I’m into the bald," Odom told George Lopez in 2010 <a href="http://hollywoodlife.com/2010/03/11/khloe-kardashian-lamar-odom-bald-lopez/">while sitting with ex-wife Khloe Kardashian</a>. "You got to keep it clean down there. It’s disgusting if you let it go crazy."

  • Michael Douglas

    "God bless her, [Catherine Zeta-Jones] likes older guys,"<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/22/michael-douglas-thank-goo_n_432716.html"> Douglas told AARP</a>. "And some wonderful enhancements have happened in the last few years -- Viagra, Cialis -- that can make us all feel younger."

  • Lizzy Caplan

    "They basically figured out that the female body is far better equipped for sex than the male body. Women can have multiple orgasms; men cannot. They're actually the sexual athletes, not the men."

  • Mariah Carey

  • Jerry Seinfeld

    "Seems to me the basic conflict between men and women, sexually, is that men are like firemen. To men, sex is an emergency, and no matter what we're doing we can be ready in two minutes. Women, on the other hand, are like fire. They're very exciting, but the conditions have to be exactly right for it to occur."

  • Zosia Mamet

    "I had a girl come up to me and thank me, because she said she and her boyfriend have sex after they watch the show, and then she told me she was worried about what would happen to their sex lives when the show goes off the air."

  • Michael B. Jordan

    "I think that when you're younger, you have to find places to get your own privacy. When you're an adult, it's like whatever. I wanna say, like, a movie theater."

  • Nadya "Octomom" Suleman

    "I've never had [an orgasm] and I don’t want one. Because I feel that would be highly distracting."

  • Steve Martin

    "Sex is one of the most wholesome, beautiful and natural experiences that money can buy."

  • Woody Allen

    "Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go its pretty damn good."

  • Robert Downey Jr.

    "I was a compulsive, serial masturbator," <a href="http://www.popcrunch.com/robert-downey-jr-masturbation-confession/">the actor confessed</a>, adding, "I utilized that organ and rode it for everything it was worth."

  • Angelina Jolie

    “I am very lucky with Brad,” <a href="http://hollywoodlife.com/2011/05/31/angelina-jolie-cleopatra-brad-pitt-jennifer-aniston/">she told the Telegraph</a>. “He is a real gentleman, but he is also a real man’s man. He’s got the wonderful balance of being an extraordinary, great, loving father, a very, very intelligent man and physically he’s a real man, in all things that it means.’” She also discussed having sex during pregnancy, <a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20205854,00.html">telling EW</a>, "It’s great for the sex life. It just makes you a lot more creative, so you have fun.”

  • Ashlee Simpson

    After reuniting with then husband Pete Wentz at the 2009 Australia MTV Awards, Simpson got a little ahead of herself, announcing: <a href="http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Simpson+talks+of+finding+quiet+place+to+fornicate+at+MTV+Australia...-a0212351994">"Sorry we haven’t seen each other in a while, so we’re going to find a quiet place to go fornicate."</a>

  • Jessica Simpson

    "I’m kind of unstoppable right now," Simpson told Ryan Seacrest <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/pregnant-jessica-simpson-my-sex-drive-is-unstoppable-right-now-2012133">about her sex life during pregnancy</a>. "The Big O is, like, the biggest O ever.”

  • Ricki Lake

    "When I get home [from rehearsals], I train horizontally," Lake told People <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20540947,00.html">while she was competing on "Dancing with the Stars."</a> "[Christian] has noticed a difference in my stamina over the last couple of weeks."

  • Sting

    Sting loves to romance his wife Trudie Syler. "There's a playfulness we have; I like the theater of sex," <a href="http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/fashion-articles/sting-trudie-styler-interview-0211?click=main_sr">he told Harper's Bazaar.</a> "I like to look good. I like her to dress up. I like to dress her up."

  • Zoe Saldana

    "I like missionary and I like being on my knees too," <a href="http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/news/celebrity/536025/gwyneth-paltrow-and-zoe-saldana-talk-favourite-sex-positions.html#index=1">Saldana told Marie Claire</a>. "And I love being on top ... I love doggy-style or standing up."

  • Jane Fonda

    "At 74, I have never had such a fulfilling sex life," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/jane-fonda-sex-life_n_1661999.html">Fonda told Hello! magazine</a>. "The only thing I have never known is true intimacy with a man. I absolutely wanted to discover that before dying. It has happened with Richard, I feel totally secure with him. Often, when we make love, I see him as he was 30 years ago."

  • Kelsey Grammer

    “We didn’t do anything much more than kiss for several months,” Kelsey told Conan O’Brien <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/camille-grammer-kelsey-grammer_n_1874717.html">about seeing Kayte Walsh</a> while he was still married to Camille Grammer. “I just wanted to clear that up. She was worth the wait.” “I would think that would be difficult,” Conan said, laughing. Kelsey replied, “Well, for a guy that hadn’t had sex for a decade it wasn’t that hard!”

  • George Clooney

    Although Clooney lost his virginity at the age of 16 ("young, very young, too young"), he told Rolling Stone <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/pictures/confessions-of-a-dirty-mind-george-clooney-talks-sex-politics-and-fame-20111109/0190256#ixzz2EmC4l4Sw">he had his first orgasm when he was much younger.</a> "I believe it was while climbing a rope when I was six or seven years old," he explained. "I mean, nothing came out, but all the other elements were there. I remember getting to the top of the rope, hanging off the rope, and going, "Oh, my God, this feels great!"

  • Jennifer Love Hewitt

    When promoting her book in 2010, <a href="http://www.aoltv.com/2010/01/13/jennifer-love-hewitt-shocks-george-lopez-with-vagazzling/" target="_blank">Hewitt talked to George Lopez about bedazzling her "lady parts." </a> "After a breakup, a friend of mine Swarovski Crystaled my 'precious lady' and it shined like a disco ball, and so I have a whole chapter in there about how women should 'vagazzle' their vajayjays," she said.

  • Paula Patton

    Thicke's prettier half <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/paula-patton-robin-thicke_n_4100218.html" target="_blank">spoke to Glamour about her hubby's, ahem, anatomy</a>. "It's cool, it's funny, it's awesome!" Patton said when asked about the scene in the "Blurred Lines" video that spells out "Robin Thicke Has A Big D*ck." Asked whether it's accurate, she added: "Robin's like, 'Listen, if I'm, you know, in the Miami Heat's locker room, I don't know where I stand, but...' But I think that the statement is fairly accurate!"

  • Kris Jenner

    The former talk show host's most recent confessions? Joining the mile high club and faking the big "O."

  • Martha Stewart

    Stewart has <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/martha-stewart-admits-to-sexting-reveals-she-maybe-had-a-threesome-2013276" target="_blank">admitted to sexting</a> and said she "might" have had a threesome.

  • P. Diddy

  • John Mayer

    "I have masturbated myself out of serious problems in my life," <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/john-mayers-dirty-mind-lonely-heart-new-issue-of-rolling-stone-20100119">the musician told Rolling Stone</a>. "The phone doesn't pick up because I'm masturbating. And I have excused myself at the oddest times so as to not make mistakes. If Tiger Woods only knew when to jerk off. It has a true market value, like gold bullion. First of all, I don't jerk off because I'm horny. I'm sort of half-chick. It's like District 9. I can fire alien weapons. I can insert a tampon. No, I do it because I want to take a brain bath. It's like a hot whirlpool for my brain, in a brain space that is 100 percent agreeable with itself."

  • Brandi Glanville

    In her new book, "Drinking & Tweeting and Other Brandi Blunders," Brandi Glanville <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/brandi-glanville-vaginal-rejuvenation-_n_2581707.html">revealed that she underwent vaginal rejuvenation surgery</a> after her now ex-husband, Eddie Cibrian, left her -- she even had him foot the bill. "I decided that since Eddie ruined my vagina for me, he could pay for a new one," Glanville writes in her book.

  • James Franco

    "When I’m alone, I do masturbate a lot. I don’t know why," <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/risky-business">Franco told The Hollywood Reporter.</a> "It's like you have those days where it’s just like, I have a ton of writing to do, or a ton of reading to do, and you’re just like, OK, I’m going to be on the couch all day or in bed all day just doing that … I tend to have a four- or five-time day."

  • Tracy Morgan

    "You know what the sexiest part of a woman's body is? Most men would say the breasts, the ass, the vagina. No, it's not. The sexiest part of a woman's body is the back of her kneecaps. Oh. If she got a nice little dimple there, that's sexy. You want to turn a woman on? Kiss the back of her kneecaps."

  • Jada Pinkett Smith

    This <a href="http://omg.yahoo.com/news/rihanna-admits-she-likes-spanking-other-celebrity-tmi-20110406-181700-559.html" target="_blank">interview in 2009 </a>sums it up: "When you have three kids, you've got to take your opportunities when they come. In a limo, on the way to the Academy Awards this year, Will started looking at me in this way that drives me wild. We started kissing passionately, and the next thing I knew, well, let's just say we missed the red carpet and I ended up with almost no makeup on," Pinkett-Smith said.


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