Addyi: Is it safe and should I consider taking it?

The new pink Viagra, known as Addyi or flibanserin, was recently released. Is it safe? Should you take it? Why is it not at all what the pharmaceutical companies are claiming? Learn more about this dangerous drug and what you can do instead if your libido is suffering.

I’ve always been the fat kid. Rather, I’ve always seen myself that way.

Looking at pictures of myself in elementary and middle school, I was taller, thicker, and stronger than most of the girls my age, but in a very athletic way. Still, I’ve spent my entire life feeling like I was fat, which until fairly recently equated to feeling unwanted, undesirable, unlovable, and a host of other inferior things.

When I was in high school and college (and even now, on bad days), I would comfort myself with this fantasy of a mystical being granting me “the perfect body”.

This fantasy was beautifully alluring because instead of learning to appreciate what I had, instead of loving myself in the moment, I could pretend it all away by taking a magic pill that turned my body into that of Sofia Vergara or Jennifer Lawrence.

Of course, the assumption being if I had a body like theirs all of my problems would be solved.

*poof*

The truth is that while these fantasies allowed me to escape the pain I was experiencing in that moment, they caused me so much more harm in the long run.

I spent countless hours wishing for magic instead of using all of that time to embrace myself, to find ways to love myself, to nurture myself, to appreciate my body, or to simply be present in my life and find a way to navigate my truth.

Everything around me, even “inspiring” magazines like O Magazine, shouted at me to lose weight, to shed 10 pounds, to find clothes that “flattered” my shape, that cast the fat girl as the sidekick (because who could actually want someone fat?).

By trapping myself in an unrealistic dream, largely defined by forces outside of myself, I was feeding my shame and self-loathing.

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out how to undo some of that damage. But now I’m much better at looking inside of myself for the answers, even if they contradict all of the messages around me.

So, what does wishing for a magical cure to be skinny have to do with Addyi, the new female arousal drug that’s been called the pink Viagra?

A lot more than you would think.

The fact is that most women in committed, long-term relationships are under the impression that they should be wanting more sex without understanding exactly how desire works. Our world is conditioning us to feel like we are broken when it comes to our desire for sex.

In fact, even though Addyi has only been on the market a few days, one woman has already told me her doctor is pushing her to try it, and that breaks my heart.

Addyi is being touted as the magic pill that “fixes” arousal, when the truth of the matter is the pill doesn’t do what it claims AND 99.9% of the time nothing is actually broken.

There is a lot to say about Addyi and women’s desire. Enough to fill a book (which is exactly what Emily Nagoski did with her AMAZING book “Come As You Are”), so this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What is Addyi? How does it work? Are there any dangers that come with taking it? (Yes!) And, if you’re considering Addyi, what can you do instead? Let’s take a look.

Addyi: the not-so-good, the bad, and the ugly

When you think about Viagra, you probably get a pretty vivid picture of a guy taking a pill and suddenly finding himself rock hard. Of course, the assumption is that a hard penis equals wanting to have sex (but we know that isn’t the case at all – just because your body is doing one thing, doesn’t mean your mind is on board).

Basically, Viagra forces a physical response of rushing blood to the erectile tissue and creating an erect cock.

Addyi does not do this. It does not force blood to erectile tissue, it does not cause your vulva to swell with blood or your vagina to lubricate itself with more gusto.

According to Georgetown University Medical Center, Addyi – original name of flibanserin – “failed efficacy trials as an antidepressant and was rejected twice for its current indication before being approved.”

Instead of targeting your genitals, Addyi affects your brain’s chemicals: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Why? Because Addyi is a rebranded antidepressant.

Let’s take a look at a few things that we all need to be aware of:

  • Unlike Viagra, which you take only when you want a hard penis, Addyi must be taken every single day.
  • People in the studies experienced higher rates of fatigue, sedation, unconsciousness, hypotension, and it interacts poorly with many medications, including oral contraceptives.
  • If you take Addyi, you cannot consume alcohol. Since Addyi is a daily pill, that means no alcohol consumption until you decide to go off of Addyi.
  • Your physician is responsible for prescribing Addyi, however, only a sex therapist/professional would know whether Addyi is appropriate for a patient. Physicians do not receive sex education training in medical school (it’s an elective even for gynecologists, which means many gyn’s can opt out of sex education in med school).
  • Speaking of physicians, doctors are receiving seven slides’ worth of training on Addyi. This means most doctors will be woefully under-informed about the risks, side effects, and limited benefits when they prescribe it.

 

Is all of this a problem if it really does help women to experience improved desire for sex?

Sadly, based on the trials, Addyi doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on patients.

Before we dive into that, let’s consider one thing.

“Hypoactive sexual desire disorder was recently dropped from the latest edition of the DSM-5. Disorders of desire and arousal have now been combined in the term ‘female sexual interest/arousal disorder’ (FSI/AD), which takes into account the fact that for many women, desire follows rather than precedes arousal.”

That quote comes from a fact sheet put together by Georgetown University Medical Center. You can see it here.

What that means is the American Psychiatric Association now recognizes that women’s desire is much more nuanced and complex than was previously thought. Back in the old days, the baseline for human sexual desire was that of 18-22 year old males. That was considered “normal” for all of us, regardless of gender, age, race, health, etc.

As a result, women were often considered lacking when it came to sexual arousal and desire – simply because they weren’t experiencing it as spontaneously and as often as young men.

Now, most mental health professionals and sex professionals recognize that our desire is actually much more dependent on context.

And so they removed “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” from the manual. But Addyi’s instructions says it treats “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” – in other words, this medicine claims to treat something that doesn’t even exist anymore.

So, what were the actual results from the flibanserin (Addyi) trials?

Women reported 0.7 more satisfying sexual events per month than women on the placebo.

Less than one. In a month.

Some experts are attributing that small increase to something else, though. The participants were asked to journal about their sexual satisfaction and sexual experiences. By simply placing a higher emphasis on thinking about sex and prioritizing it, it’s no wonder participants experienced a small bump – where your attention goes, energy flows.

What does all of this mean to you?

Addyi may offer a slight improvement in sexual satisfaction for pre-menopausal women who have had a sudden, steep decrease in sexual enjoyment.

However, due to the potential side effects, the possible drug interactions, and the lack of long-term studies on this repurposed pill, most sex professionals are strongly discouraging use.

We do expect more doctors to begin pushing patients to use this drug, but as consumers, we need to be willing to push back.

Desire is a beautiful, complex, tender beast.

If you’re truly struggling with a lack of sexual enjoyment or sexual desire, find a sex positive sex coach, sex therapist, or sex educator to help you explore and navigate what that means.

Often I find that clients are under the impression that they’re broken or that they should want sex more, but when we dig under those beliefs, we find so many other truths.

As you begin redefining sex in a way that fits with your life and your desire, without all of that noise from the outside, you set yourself up for a lifetime of sexual awareness and empowerment.

Instead of wishing for a magic pill to fix you, if you give yourself permission to begin accepting what is, exploring the beauty within, and creating something meaningful for yourself, you’ll find so much more pleasure and desire in the long run.

My advice? Avoid Addyi entirely.

Instead, unpack your sexual experience with the help of a professional. Roll around in your fantasies. Say the scary stuff. Confront the parts of your life that aren’t lifting you up. Do the work that unleashes your sexual self.

[callout title=”Work with me” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/work-with-me/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]If you’re considering Addyi or you’re ready to explore your own desire, I’m here to help. [/callout]