Which is the Better Choice for Treating Low Libido in Women?
A Big Pharma drug? Or natural hormones?
This week the media has gone all out to celebrate FDA approval of a new drug that promises to manage low libido in women. Of course this drug has the usual list of hair-raising side effects, which begs this question: since there is an inexpensive, readily available natural alternative that has no side effects and actually enhances other facets of health along with treating low libido, why don’t we hear anything about that?
The newly-approved drug is filbanserin. It’s being marketed under the name of Addyi, though several press releases refer to it as “the little pink pill,” or “female Viagra.” Its purpose is to boost the libido of women who have lost interest in sex, or as AFP News puts it, women with “acquired, generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).” This ‘disorder’ is found in 1 of every 10 women in the U.S.
Though it is hormones, testosterone in particular, that power libido in both men and women (along with pheromones of course) filbanserin does not act on them. Instead it acts on neurotransmitters in the brain much like the SSRI drugs prescribed for depression do. It is a serotonin 1A receptor agonist and a serotonin 2A receptor antagonist, and the FDA has no clue about why it works on libido.
Although no mention of it has been made during this week’s celebration, SSRI drugs have been highly associated with suicides and mass shootings. That’s right, antidepressants may be worsening depression in many individuals taking them.
Filbanserin is being sold only on the condition that extra care is taken to ensure women using it do not consume alcohol, which would enhance its many side effects.
Those side effects come with a prominently-displayed boxed warning, indicating the severity. They include:
- Dry mouth,
- And it can induce dangerously-low blood pressure (hypotension), and a loss of consciousness.
To prevent women from falling over at work, taking care of a child, or behind the wheel of a car, the drug is to be taken at bed time.
There is a Better Way
Although testosterone is usually mentioned only in the context of men, it is also the most abundant hormone in women. It is one of their three primary steroid hormones, the other two being estrogen and progesterone.
Testosterone plays a big role in women’s sex drive. It’s the major driver behind desire, fantasy, sexual thoughts, and arousal, and it even provides motivation and energy for the sexual act, according to Linda Bradley, MD, vice chair and ob-gyn for the Women’s Health Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Testosterone is what enables a woman’s orgasm.
Optimal levels of testosterone in women are vanishing at an earlier age than ever, and women in their mid-20s may now be experiencing loss of libido. Some of this can be explained by the use of birth control pills. The estrogen they contain may bind to testosterone, making it lose its power. Environmental estrogens from emissions may also be a factor. The result can be loss of interest in sex. Lower levels of testosterone are also believed to be the reason women lose interest in sex after menopause.
Another reason for the early drop in testosterone may be the herbicides used in food production. The increased use of Roundup, the flagship product of Monsanto, has been shown to destroy testosterone. Although the studies on this have been done with men so far, it is easy to see that women too would be affected.
Testosterone affects more than libido. When women have lost testosterone, they become susceptible to heart attacks and atherosclerosis just like men do. Research gathered by Dr. Jonathan Wright, founder of the well-known Tacoma Clinic in Washington, shows that use of bioidentical testosterone decreases cholesterol levels more safely than drugs, improves circulation, and slows tissue break down.
Bodybuilders and athletes are known for their use of bioidentical testosterone to increase muscle and bone mass. This may be because it helps the body retain calcium. Loss of the hormone can lead to loss of mineralization and brittle bones.
This muscle-toning effect of testosterone keeps muscles strong, and the heart is one of the largest muscles in the body. This effect can also stop leaky bladder by toning bladder muscles.
Bioidentical testosterone is an exact replica of the testosterone found in humans. It is available from doctors who specialize in integrative medicine. Bioidentical testosterone is FDA-approved and most forms are low in cost and may even be covered by insurance.