Flibanserin, known by the brand name Addyi, is the first drug to be approved for treating Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (FSIAD). FSIAD occurs in approximately 10% of the female population. The path for approval of Flibanserin has been difficult because it’s the first drug of its kind and measuring its effectiveness has been tricky.
How Flibanserin Works
Flibanserin works by interfering in the neurotransmitters in the brain. Specifically, in the area of the brain relating to sexual desire and pleasure. How it works to increase sexual desire in premenopausal women is not fully understood, but Flibanserin blocks some neural receptors for dopamine and serotonin while stimulating others. By blocking and stimulating different receptors, Flibanserin might normalise sexual desire in premenopausal women with FSIAD.
Side Effects of Flibanserin.
There are several known side effects associated with Flibanserin.
The drug may cause low blood pressure and cause fainting. It is essential not to consume alcohol with Flibanserin or take any other medicines that cause low blood pressure.
It can also cause drowsiness and impact your ability to stay alert. You should not perform any activities that require high levels of alertness for at least 6 hours after taking Flibanserin.
Approval of Flibanserin
Flibanserin is the first drug targeting the treatment of FSIAD. As such, the approval process was not smooth. The drug failed to gain approval from the FDA on two separate occasions. The FDA finally approved Flibanserin on the third attempt. The main concerns preventing approval were around the positive effects of the drug when compared to the adverse side effects—the other concern related to what type of treatment is best for female sexual dysfunction. Female sexual desire is both physical and psychological, and very complex.
Flibanserin vs. Sildenafil
The FDA has not approved Sildenafil for treating women with low sex drive. However, doctors still prescribe it as an “off-label” drug for this purpose. Off-label is when a drug approved for one purpose is used for a purpose that has yet to be approved. Sildenafil may help with physical arousal but does not appear to help with the more complex nature of FSIAD. Primary FSIAD responds better to Viagra than secondary FSIAD that is the result of an associated disorder such as diabetes.
Treating male sexual dysfunction with Sildenafil works on a physical level to promote and prolong an erection. On the other hand, Flibanserin works on a psychological level to stimulate arousal. That means one pill targets a physical response and the other a more complex emotional response.
The FDA approved Flibanserin on the grounds of unmet medical needs, despite lingering concerns around side effects. The risk of severe hypotension when Flibanserin is taken with alcohol is the most concerning.
The Jury is Out
Flibanserin has not seen the success associated with Sildenafil. This may be because it is so hard to judge how effective the drug is. There are no tangible results to measure. The drug can increase sexual desire on a psychological level but does not claim to improve sexual performance or enjoyment. In this respect, Flibanserin is the polar opposite of Sildenafil. It is much easier for Men to measure the effectiveness of Sildenafil by the quality and duration of their erection.
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