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Lybrido: Is there such a thing as female Viagra?

Published : Wednesday May 29, 2013 | Posted in : Sexual Health
Sceptical woman

You may have seen the name Lybrido in the news recently, most likely accompanied by images of Viagra tablets which have been photoshopped to look pink rather than blue. "The new female Viagra!" the title of the article likely proclaimed in some form or another. Despite the fact that this new medication for a form of female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is still several years from licensing, the press coverage is eager to claim it as the sexual cure women have been waiting for. Viagra for women! But how accurate is this, really?

There are several factors to look at here. Firstly, and most importantly, what does Lybrido actually do? Emotional Brain (EB), the company behind Lybrido and its lesser-discussed alternative Lybridos, claim the medications can increase libido in women with HSDD (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder), a form of FSD. How it will do this, and what form of administration the medicine will take, has not yet been established, but EB have stated that the medicine will be effective up to six hours after intake. This suggests an as-needed oral medication, presumably in the form of a pill, rather than a patch-based treatment or a daily pill.

Is Lybrido the female Viagra?

In simple terms, no. Even if Lybrido is approved and given a licence and marketing authorisation as a treatment for HSDD, it will not be the equivalent of Viagra. Though it is true that both medications are essentially designed to make their respective users physically able to have sex, the way in which they do this is very different, and this difference is crucial. Viagra improves blood flow in the male body, enabling an erection in a man who is sexually aroused but would otherwise not be able to attain or maintain an erection. Lybrido, by contrast, would increase libido in women who have no sexual desire.

Why is this difference important?

It is well known that many men find it difficult to discuss problems relating to sexual health, particularly issues like impotence. This reluctance to discuss the issues leads to a prevalence of myths and unsubstantiated facts about treatments like Viagra. Probably the biggest and most well-established myth about Viagra is that it boosts male libido, and that this is how it works. This is entirely inaccurate: Viagra is only effective in men who are already sexually aroused. Calling Lybrido the "female Viagra" perpetuates the myth that Viagra affects libido, and such misunderstandings can have a real effect on the likelihood of men to seek help and the possibility of them self-diagnosing incorrectly. This is a topic we've featured here on the blog in the past.

Despite this problem, it's easy to see why this false equivalence is made. Viagra is one of the most well known medications in the world, and so a quick association like this one makes a standard headline about a possible new medication that bit more eye-catching. Simply glancing at the headline lets the reader know the article will be about a sex-related medication of some description, which could be enough to get them to read on.

In the future

The narrative that can be seen here in the way Lybrido has been reported is nothing new, and it's unlikely that it will change in the future. If the next stage of trials prove successful and Lybrido is given approval by regulatory bodies like the FDA in the United States and the EMA in Europe, it will likely be marketed in a similar way. This is why it's important for healthcare providers, including us here at HealthExpress, to deliver factually correct medical information relating to conditions like impotence and female sexual dysfunction.

Sexual health problems can have a huge impact on relationships and on individuals, so it can only be a positive thing that research into these areas is ongoing and new treatments are being developed. Further updates on Lybrido and other sexual health treatments will be covered here on the HealthExpress blog. You can find out more about impotence and female sexual dysfunction on our main site.

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