How to Improve Women’s Sex Drive (HINT: It’s Not Addyi)

How to Improve Women’s Sex Drive (HINT: It’s Not Addyi) August 18, 2015

Are you tired of prime time television commercials advertising drugs for erectile dysfunction?  Well, move over, gentlemen–because the ladies are about to catch up! Today the Food and Drug Administration approved Addyi (pronounced ADD’ee), a prescription drug produced by Sprout Pharmaceutical which promises to increase sexual desire in women.

But I’ve gotta tell you: It ain’t gonna work.

Image: Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

For starters, there are the health warnings on the box–which are substantial, warning patients of serious side effects including dangerously low blood pressure and fainting, especially when used in combination with alcohol or with certain other common medications including antifungals used to treat yeast infections. Other common side effects include nausea, drowsiness and dizziness.

The side effects are so dramatic that doctors will only be authorized to prescribe Addyi if they’ve completed an online certification process and passed a test. Doctors will be required to warn patients of side effects. Pharmacists, who must also complete licensing requirements and pass a test, must remind patients of the dangers if the drug is combined with alcohol.

And unlike the little blue pill for men, Viagra, Addyi won’t work if it’s taken just an hour before sexual activity. No–A woman who wants to increase her sexual appetite will need to take the drug for weeks or months before noticing any difference in her libido.

Because of the health risks, the delayed response, and the need for strict controls, many–including physicians and sex therapists–have circulated a petition urging the FDA to reject the company’s bid for approval, as they had twice before in 2010 and 2013.

According to the Associated Press:

The search for a pill to treat women’s sexual difficulties has been something of a holy grail for the pharmaceutical industry. It was pursued and later abandoned by Pfizer, Bayer and Procter & Gamble, among others. But drugs that act on blood flow, hormones and other biological functions all proved ineffective.

Addyi, known generically as flibanserin, is the first drug that acts on brain chemicals that affect mood and appetite.

Women and their doctors will have to decide whether the drug’s modest benefits warrant taking a psychiatric pill on a daily basis.

And added to the side effects, the drug suffers from abysmally low success rates. According to the New York Times:

In one trial, for instance, women who took the drug had an average of 4.4 “satisfying sexual experiences” a month, compared with 3.7 for women getting a placebo and 2.7 before the study began. The drug did not increase desire more than a placebo when measured by a daily diary, but did do so modestly when measured by a monthly questionnaire.

But I’d like to suggest that despite the severe warnings and the meager results, there is another, more important reason why Addyi won’t achieve the desired goal.

Women are smart.

Women have the most to lose in a casual sexual relationship, or one in which her partner (hopefully, aka her husband) is not gentle and loving and self-donative toward her.

There’s nothing particularly sexy about two bodies rubbing up against one another for mutual relief of sexual need. I mean, the couple may have some kind of fun; they may achieve orgasm together; but that kind of purely kinesthetic relationship is not deeply satisfying and leads to unrest rather than fulfillment.

Dr. Gregory Popcak, in his excellent book Holy Sex: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving, explains the difference between what he calls “holy sex” and eroticism–which isn’t really “sex” at all. To contrast the deeply intimate sexuality in a loving marriage with the cheap thrills of a casual erotic relationship, Dr. Popcak stands the two side-by-side:

Holy Sex = Very pleasurable. Eroticism = Very pleasurable.

Holy Sex = Driven by intimacy and arousal.  Eroticism = Driven solely by arousal.

Holy Sex = Overcomes shame.  Eroticism = Causes shame.

Holy Sex = Works for the good of the other.  Eroticism = Uses the other.

Holy Sex = Welcomes children.  Eroticism = Fears children.

Holy Sex = Shares the whole self.  Eroticism = Withholds the self.

Holy Sex = More joyful and vibrant with time.  Eroticism = More stagnant and boring with time (like a drug)

Holy Sex = Gives life and health.  Eroticism = Brings disease and death.

 Holy Sex goes on to discuss the five great powers of holy sex, and the anatomy of infallible lovemaking. Dr. Popcak shines light on common sexual problems for women and for men, and offers frank advice for effective foreplay, overcoming infertility, dealing with infidelity, sexual addiction, and when to seek help (and from whom).

Is there ever a time when a woman’s sexual urges are reduced? Well, yes–and of course, the hormonal smorgasbord which follows labor and delivery is one time that comes to mind. But for most women, the key to unlocking true sexual fulfillment is a life-long committed relationship in which she feels cherished and safe, a partner who wants what is best for her and not only what feels good to him.

Addyi will hit store shelves on October 17. Dr. Gregory Popcak’s Holy Sex is available today from Amazon.


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  • Dave Armstrong

    Great article. There are already plenty of “amorous” supplements in health food stores for women (I’m a holistic health / herbalism, etc. guy).

    Check out avena sativa. About $10 a jar, no side effects, and works fast! But I fully agree; you gotta have a solid relationship before you even get to this point of supplements. There is no such thing as “love in a bottle.”

  • Dawn Elizabeth Slike

    Here’s what they don’t tell you. Birth control, designed to give women “freedom”, can also cause loss of sexual interest. It also causes a vulnerability to yeast infections. So if you take birth control, develop a yeast infection, lose interest in sex, take a medicine to cure the yeast infection, then take a “medicine” which increases your sexual desire which is also known to cause a dangerous interaction with the anti-yeast infection medicine — ummmm, why do all this unless you’re truly stupid. Or just miss the thrill of being sexually addicted.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    Dr. Popcak says that Holy Sex is driven by intimacy and arousal. If a woman has trouble with arousal and Addyi helps, wouldn’t that help her have Holy Sex with her husband?

    Women have the most to lose in a casual sexual relationship, or one in which her partner (hopefully, aka her husband) is not gentle and loving and self-donative toward her.

    This is true.. but how does Addyi affect it? Are you saying Addyi makes husbands less gentle and loving? Do men care less about women if the women enjoys sex more? I’m not seeing the connection…

    • RAnn

      While sexual problems can cause problems in marriage, I’d be curious to see the stats regarding women who have arousal problems on a regular basis. Are there differences between those in loving secure relationships and those who are in casual relationships?

      • Sheila C.

        Yes, I believe there is — a very small percentage of women actually achieve orgasm in a one-night stand. Most don’t.

        HOWEVER, that said, I wish people would stop promising an amazing sex life as a reward for following Catholic moral teaching. That’s not at all guaranteed, and sexual dysfunction can affect anyone. It’s frustrating enough to have an attentive husband and a great relationship and still never have sexual satisfaction — it makes it WORSE to be told that all sexual problems come from something spiritual that’s wrong with your marriage.

  • TapestryGarden

    Don’t forget how many women are on birth control pills or other hormonal birth control. This is KNOWN to decrease sex drive as well as making you fat and foggy. Get the women off the Pill and you’ll see a lot more desire.

  • Allan Siegel

    My wife and I have experienced an increase in our libidos, which have improved our sex lives (“holy sex). We are in our late 60’s (I’ll be 68 on August 22), and with an added natural herbal supplement this has been made possible.

    This “vitality enhancer” is Natural Moments, and is only available through my website affiliation, There are no side effects, and the enhancement takes only a matter of days in most cases.

    You may contact me directly through my personal email address or cell, which are listed below.

    Make it a joyous day!