Lybrido: Why Are Some Men So Worried About The New Female Viagra?

Nymphomania, sexism and the “little pink pill”
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Move over zombies. There’s a new monster coming to town: the sex-crazed, aggressive woman. Left unstopped, these raging nymphomaniacs will facilitate a chaotic world in which women not only desire and enjoy sex, but seek it with uncontrollable doggedness. So say skeptics of Lybrido, the female Viagra equivalent expected to become available in 2016.

Before Lybrido was approved for eventual release, predominantly male industry advisers expected that companies would reject the drugs for fear that they would trigger “female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity [and] societal splintering,” wrote New York Times journalist Daniel Bergner in May 2013. Critics of the nymphomania-fearing skeptics consider this stance offensive paranoia. Some wonder whether a need for such medication even exists.

How Does It Really Work?

Lybrido and its sister drug Lybridos were designed to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder—a condition that causes low sex drive in 10 percent of women, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine. Lybrido was created to increase sensitivity to sexual cues, such as kissing and caressing, in women who are lacking. Lybridos aims to reduce a woman’s overactive “sexual brake,” which can halt physical arousal even when she’s emotionally turned on. Both drugs contain testosterone, which is where notions of sex-crazed pugnacity derive, said Jos Bloemers, MSc, the director of scientific operations at Emotional Brain B.V. in the Netherlands, where the drugs are being developed.

Will Women Go Wild?

“There is a relationship between testosterone administration and aggression, but this is only seen when high amounts are administered each day,” he said. “You would need to take over 100 Lybrido or Lybridos tablets per day over a longer period of time to see such effects.”

In studies, women have typically taken four to five tablets per month, or up to one every other day, without any aggressiveness symptoms. In future studies, women will have the option of taking daily doses, but the scientists anticipate that most participants will opt for no more than one per week.

As for the nymphomania concerns, partakers’ chances of going from ‘I’d rather eat a sandwich than get busy’ to sex addicted isn’t in the pipeline.

“Both drugs make the brain more sensitive to sexual stimuli,” said Bloemers. “A sexual stimulus is more likely to induce a sexual response, but the stimulus still needs to be potent enough.”

In other words, if a woman’s partner doesn’t help light her sexual fire within the three to six hour timeframe that the drug is active, neither will Lybrido.

Concerns Surrounding the Fears

To many sexuality and sociological experts, the problems regarding female Viagra equivalents aren’t the potential complications, but the fears surrounding them.

“I think that critics are afraid of what it will mean if women can take control of their own sexuality in this way,” said Susan Harper, Ph.D, a sociologist, anthropologist and professor of sexuality, women’s health and gender studies in Texas. “They’re afraid that women who use Lybrido will be able to use it to have sex whenever they want, of their own volition, rather than waiting for men to take the initiative. No one expressed similar concerns regarding Viagra.”

Then there’s the issue of what causes low sex drive for most women. “I think HSDD is a real thing for some women,” said Harper, “but it’s complicated and difficult to pin down. Libido issues are much less straight forward than for men, where there’s usually a directly findable physical cause.”

Harper and many other sexuality experts feel that Lybrido-type medications essentially miss the point—that they’ll only go so far toward heightening libido, and for relatively few women. The bigger culprits? Cultural and psychological factors.

What Lies Beneath, And Ahead

“Medicalizing sexuality of any gender ignores the cultural factors that influence sexuality,” said Harper. “Just because someone is physically capable of intercourse doesn't mean they necessarily want to have sex or want to have sex with a given partner.”

Research as a whole, she said, reveals female sexual dysfunction as a frequent product of cultural, interpersonal and psychological factors, such as poor body image, relationship insecurity and sexual trauma.

 A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in March 2010, for example, showed a strong link between calorie restriction and female sexual dysfunction—a significant finding, considering the fact that 1 in 4 women in the U.S. reported dieted in 2012. Research published in Sexual Medicine in 2010 pointed to psychological wellbeing as a significantly stronger factor in sexual gratification than physical sexual dysfunction in middle-age women.

But rectifying emotional and cultural issues are far from libido-booster makers’ aim, who recognize that sexuality is affected by more than mere physiology.

“For both Lybrido and Lybridos, we hope to help women with HSDD,” said Bloemer. “We hope these drugs will improve their sex life and thereby decrease the distress they experience from their HSDD.”

As studies continue to show benefits of the libido enhancers, the future seems promising for many HSDD sufferers. For the majority of women for whom sexual barriers run deeper, however, sexual vitality will require far more than just a little pink pill.