Sexless in the City

The fruitless search for a “pink Viagra”
by Staff, Utne Reader
March-April 2011
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Image by Flickr user: wolleydog / Creative Commons


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Most guys can be justly accused of being obsessed with their own anatomy, and it’s no secret that the pharmaceutical industry has been zealous in pandering to that obsession. If you need confirmation of Big Pharma’s keen interest in the subject, just check out the offers for Viagra in your junk-mail folder.

It’s unlikely, however, that you’ll receive any offers for pink Viagra for the gals. That’s because a distaff version doesn’t exist.

That’s not to say that women are sexually satisfied, according to Suzi Godson, writing in Prospect (Nov. 2010). A 1999 study shows that some 43 percent of women experience “female sexual dysfunction” (FSD). Nor is it for lack of enthusiasm from drug makers. Primed by the $4.4 billion annual sales of erectile dysfunction drugs, researchers have been searching for a cure for more than a decade.

The holdup is that female sexuality is more complicated than males’. Many women who experience sexual dysfunction also report having “low sexual desire.”

What does that mean? “It’s not a dysfunction; it’s a nonspecific complaint that often has nothing to do with a woman’s physical health and everything to do with her relationship, her age, the size of her arse, her mortgage, or even her partner’s wedding tackle. No pill is ever going to solve all those issues,” writes Godson.

This lack of specificity has led critics to accuse drug companies of fabricating another “disorder” to be “cured” by a pill. But that’s a disservice to women (15.6 percent, according to one study) who suffer from genuine clinical conditions that sabotage their sex lives.

If drug makers invented a pink Viagra, “they would strike gold,” writes Godson. “But they would also, more importantly, improve the quality of life of more than one in ten women.”








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