6 Things to Know About the New “Female Viagra”

To start, it's not really the same as Viagra.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the long-awaited, so-called “female Viagra” for premenopausal women struggling with low libido.

“Today’s approval provides women distressed by their low sexual desire with an approved treatment option,” Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a release. But the little pink pill isn’t a quick and simple fix for a low sex drive: “Patients and prescribers should fully understand the risks associated with the use of Addyi before considering treatment,” Woodcock added.

Here are six things to know about Addyi before asking your doctor for a prescription:

1

Addyi and alcohol don’t mix.

female-viagra
Photo by Allen G. Breed/AP

Alcohol might boost libido, but you should skip the cocktail if you’re taking Addyi. The drug will be sold with a boxed warning (commonly referred to as a “black box warning”) to underscore the serious health effects of mixing the two. Addyi can cause hypotension, or severely low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness, both of which are seriously exacerbated by alcohol, as well as several other medications.

2

It’s not a silver bullet.

In studies, women taking Addyi (the drug’s generic name is flibanserin) reported an average of 0.5 to 1 more satisfying sexual events per month compared to those taking a placebo. It’s a difference, but not a miracle.

3

And it can come with side effects.

The most common ones: dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, fatigue, and dry mouth.



4

You don’t just pop it when you’re in the mood.

Patients take Addyi once daily at bedtime.

5

It’s actually approved for a specific condition.

Addyi is meant to treat generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a.k.a. HSDD. Here’s how the FDA defines it:

“HSDD is characterized by low sexual desire that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty and is not due to a co-existing medical or psychiatric condition, problems within the relationship, or the effects of a medication or other drug substance. HSDD is acquired when it develops in a patient who previously had no problems with sexual desire. HSDD is generalized when it occurs regardless of the type of sexual activity, the situation or the sexual partner.”

Translation: Addyi won’t cure your relationship problems, and shouldn’t be used to treat an underlying condition affecting sex drive, such as depression.

6

It works on the brain, not your sex organs.

The drugs is a serotonin 1A receptor agonist and a serotonin 2A receptor antagonist, according to the FDA release. How exactly it works isn’t quite known, but it’s actually more similar to antidepressants than Viagra. For more on how the drug works, check out this infographic from Time.

For more, you can read the full FDA decision here.

Want to try natural libido boosters first? Check out our list here.