How does Flibanserin improve sexual function?
Flibanserin works on the brain – Flibanserin improves sexual desire by affecting the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. It does not work in the same way as male erectile dysfunction (ED) medication, which improves blood flow to the genital area – but it could be described as 'Viagra for women' because it also treats sexual dysfunction. Also Flibanserin needs to be taken daily, whereas erectile dysfunction medications can be used on demand (only when needed).
It was developed as an antidepressant – historically, Flibanserin was actually developed as an antidepressant. Trials of the medicine found that, unfortunately, Flibanserin doesn’t work very well for this purpose. However, researchers noticed that patients who took part in the trial had increased libido. So, manufacturers hoped that Flibanserin could instead work to improve low sexual desire.
Research shows some success in treating low sex drive – studies which look at the effectiveness of Flibanserin found that it works; but only slightly better than dummy pills (placebo). Dummy pills are used in clinical research because people can have a response to taking a dummy when they think they are receiving treatment. So, these studies can tell us that some of the effects that people experience from Flibanserin are not because of the medicine itself.
Reviews of Flibanserin have been mixed – some say that the small improvement still brings significant benefits to relationships and quality of life, while others see it as aggressive marketing of a simplistic solution to women’s sexual dysfunction.