Female viagra. A promise made to a generation of sexually liberated women decades ago that seems as unlikely to ever actually work as male contraception. Both great ideas, both stuck in a continuous “will they, won’t they” cycle of trials, re-trials, placebos and failures.
Life would be so much simpler if we could just pop a pill and turn the horny switch on. But will it ever be that simple?
Let’s clear up some stuff. Viagra for men* doesn’t increase sexual desire. All it does is send blood to the genital area which creates an erection. So a man may take Viagra and have sex and even have an orgasm and yet still maintain a hard-on, even when he has no more interest in sexual activity. Pills of this nature for women however have been focussed on increasing the woman’s sexual desire. So calling them “female viagra” is actually inaccurate – they target your brain, not your genitals.
Why is this? Well, it’s taken for granted that men are just hornier than women. The common “problem” for men is not being able to have an erection when they want to have sex, and for women it’s seen as not having a “high enough” libido. The persistent myth is that men are always up for it and therefore spend their lives attempting to convince women to sleep with them. This isn’t a particularly fun (or accurate!) narrative. It pressures men into performing or behaving in highly sexualised ways and it shames women for being sexual. So let’s all agree, right here and now, that sexual desire and libido aren’t determined by our genders – they are determined by a multitude of other factors. This is why “one size fits all” medications or solutions don’t work in the ways we want them to. The reasons we may struggle with our libidos, with attaining orgasm, with getting an erection, come from (frequently, but not always) our brains. Our self-esteem, our internalised shame, being distracted, feeling anxious, depressed or pressured, going on different medications, going through menopause or pregnancy – all of these things can affect your libido. It’s far more often a question of how your mind feels rather than some kind of biological factor lowering your libido (although, of course, there are physical things that can affect your sex drive too).
Flibanserin, or “female viagra”, has been available since 2015 with very mixed results. For one thing, it has to be taken daily over a long period of time before you see any results – and some studies suggest that it is only slightly more effective than a placebo. It has side-effects, such as dizziness, nausea, drowsiness and fainting. And it does not have strong support from the scientific community:
“I am very opposed to the drug and have been since it first went to the FDA in 2010 and it was rejected. Then it was rejected a second time. The drug hasn’t changed, the data hasn’t changed, and my opinion hasn’t changed. I think it’s a disaster. It’s unsafe and it doesn’t work. That is all a drug is supposed to do. Work and be safe.” – Leonore Tiefer, clinical associate professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, speaking to Time Magazine.
It’s the only thing on the market designed for women to help them increase their libido or have higher levels of sexual desire. Until now! We have a carefully curated and designed series of audio guided practices and theory, made to cater to your specific needs on our app, Emjoy. If you are having trouble with your libido or you want to experience more sexual desire, we have a whole section dedicated to helping you boost your libido – without taking any pills.
The most important lesson that we want you to learn is – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you are happy with your libido, with how you experience sexual desire, that’s fantastic! We don’t want you to feel pressured into having more or less sex. What you like is what is right – and no one should tell you otherwise!
If, however, you want to make a change and you have stumbled upon this blog in the hope of understanding your sex drive and how to gain some agency over your sexuality, we’re here to help. We believe that you have the power within yourself to find your own sexual happiness – we are just providing the tools for you to use to find your way there, through practical exercises, guided meditation, theory lessons and daily habit-builders.
*men refers here to cis-gendered men, but we also include any person with a phallus that can take viagra and see results. We are always trying to be as inclusive as possible in our language – send us feedback and we will do better!