Dealing with a persistently weak sex drive can be a frustrating experience. An estimated 10% of women suffer from hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), a sexual disorder that results in a lack of interest in sexual activity.
Flibanserin, which is marketed under thhttps://www.forhers.com/sexual-health/addyie brand name “Addyi,” is a new medication that helps to increase sexual desire in women. It was recently approved by the FDA and is now available on prescription from your doctor.
HSDD can develop for a number of reasons, from emotional distress to physical conditions such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. While flibanserin doesn’t solve every problem that can cause HSDD, it can and does provide improvements for many women with low sexual interest.
Like all medications, flibanserin has a range of uses, side effects and interactions. Below, we’ve covered everything you need to know about flibanserin, from its benefits for your sex drive to its potential side effects, mechanism of action and precautions you’ll need to take while using it.
Men with sexual dysfunction have a wealth of treatment options to choose from, from ED drugs like sildenafil (Viagra) and Cialis (tadalafil) to hormonal treatments aimed at restoring their sex drive.
Now, women have options too. Flibanserin is a medication that’s specifically designed to boost sexual interest in women, helping women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder enjoy a normal sex life.
Unlike Viagra, Cialis and other sex-related drugs used by men, flibanserin primarily targets the brain. It works by increasing and managing the levels of important neurotransmitters used by your brain and body to signal sexual interest.
Specifically, flibanserin targets two neurotransmitters: dopamine and norepinephrine. These two neurotransmitters play important roles in creating sexual desire. High levels correlate with a high level of sexual interest; lower levels can result in a weaker-than-normal sex drive.
Flibanserin also targets serotonin—a neurotransmitter that’s known as the “happy” hormone for its role in regulating mood. High levels of serotonin in combination with low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine can reduce your sex drive.
In a way, you can think of flibanserin as a medication that pushes down the two mental buttons responsible for promoting a healthy sex drive, all while reducing the levels of neurotransmitters that can suppress and weaken your level of interest in sex.
Flibanserin was introduced in 2015, gaining FDA approval as a treatment for low sexual desire in women.
Studies tend to show that flibanserin works well as an HSDD treatment. In one study, women who took flibanserin experienced more “desire days” (days in which they felt a desire for sex) than women given a non-therapeutic placebo.
Another study of flibanserin resulted in a modest increase in the number of satisfying sexual events (SSEs) experienced by women with HSDD every month.
In short, while flibanserin isn’t a miracle cure, it does work. Women with HSDD who begin to take flibanserin generally report higher levels of sexual interest and a greater level of sexual activity, especially after using the medication for several months.
The biggest benefit of flibanserin is a noticeable increase in your sex drive. Flibanserin works well as a treatment for HSDD, with both scientific studies and anecdotal evidence showing an increase in sexual desire and interest.
However, flibanserin isn’t always effective as a treatment for HSDD. Flibanserin generally isn’t used to treat low sexual desire if it’s caused by an existing medication, a relationship problem, mental health conditions or a physical problem.
If you currently use medication that could affect your sex drive, such as an antidepressant, this could be the primary cause of your low sexual interest. Your doctor might recommend using an alternative medication before considering an option like flibanserin.
If your low sex drive is caused by a physical health problem, such as diabetes or heart disease, your doctor will likely recommend treating and managing this issue before using medication like flibanserin.
Finally, for cases of HSDD caused by emotional distress, lack of trust and other relationship or mental health issues, your doctor will likely recommend treating the specific issue before using HSDD-specific medication such as flibanserin.
Like every medication, flibanserin does have some potential side effects. The side effects of flibanserin range from minor issues such as dizziness and tiredness to significant effects on your blood pressure when combined with other substances.
Common side effects of flibanserin include:
When used with alcohol, flibanserin can result in a significant reduction in blood pressure that can cause severe fatigue, dizziness and sedation. If you use flibanserin, you’ll need to stop drinking alcohol, as even a small amount of alcohol can cause these side effects.
We’ve covered the effects of alcohol on flibanserin in more detail below. For now, just know that you’ll need to completely avoid alcohol (yes, even just one cocktail or glass of wine) while you’re using flibanserin to stay safe and healthy.
Although it often causes tiredness and sleepiness, flibanserin can also potentially cause trouble sleeping.
If you use flibanserin, drinking even a small amount of alcohol can cause a significant drop in your blood pressure level, resulting in dizziness and fatigue. Flibanserin and alcohol together can even cause you to pass out due to low blood pressure.
In order to prescribe flibanserin, doctors are required to complete a REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) assessment. Throughout this assessment, doctors are informed of the risks of patients using flibanserin and alcohol together.
As a patient, you’ll need to completely abstain from drinking alcohol if you use flibanserin. Even relatively modest amounts of alcohol (the equivalent of two to four glasses of wine, as reported in studies) can be enough to cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure while using flibanserin.
Flibanserin has more than 50 contraindications, ranging from oral antifungal medications to a range of common antibiotics. Due to flibanserin’s potential effects on blood pressure, it’s also not recommended for use with many common hypertension medications.
A complete list of flibanserin contraindications and potential interactions can be viewed at the drug’s Medscape page.
Although flibanserin is the only medication that’s specifically used to hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), it’s far from the only treatment option.
From counseling to hormonal therapy, a range of treatments are available to help you restore your sex drive and enjoy a normal, fulfilling sex life. Our guide to HSDD lists several of these treatment options, as well as detailed information on HSDD’s causes, symptoms and more.
The hers blog is full of honest sex tips for everyday women. Go on—we won't tell anyone.