The New York Times just put out an article called “Unexcited? There May Be a Pill for That.” The article, by author and journalist Daniel Bergner, focuses on two new “female desire” drugs, Lybrido and Lybridos, that are currently under investigation by the FDA.
A colleague of mine, Dr. Andrew Goldstein, was extensively interviewed for the article and participated in the initial trials of the drugs.
The drug, developed by Dutch researcher Adriaan Tuiten, is touted in some circles as a “female viagra,” although the way it works in the female body is quite different than Viagra. Both Lybrido and Lybridos are coated with testosterone – the hormone of desire. But beyond that, they work by adjusting the balance between serotonin and dopamine in the brain, giving desire an edge over inhibition.
There have been a lot of studies like this one over the years – researchers looking for the quick fix that will solve the problem of female sexual desire.
But If there’s one thing that modern science has taught us, it’s that the quick fix mentality of the “pill for every ill” mindset is just that – a quick fix. And like all quick fixes, it never goes to the heart of the problem, and may in the end spawn more problems. Look at the side effects for almost any medication out on the market and you know what I mean.
These researchers are looking for a silver bullet, but we only wish it were that easy…
The premise of Bergner’s article is that over time, women who are in monogamous, long term relationships lose their sex drive for their significant other. And this is definitely a common issue that I hear among women. But the question is, can this problem really be resolved with a pill?
I’ve spent my entire career looking at this issue, and I would say no, it can’t.
Americans have this tendency to think, “I have a problem, I just need to take a pill for it,” rather than trying to deal with the problem from a holistic standpoint, which involves looking at the body as a whole – an integrated system rather than a loosely connected collection of parts.
Desire is about so much more than just hormones. And if a woman is not feeling like having sex with her long term partner, taking a pill that may increase her sexual urges is not going to fix that.
When I talk to my female patients about low sexual desire, I talk to them not only about enhancing their libidos, but enhancing their lives.
I teach them how to Rewire their Desire, which is a term I use to describe the five main steps for restoring desire – not just libido, but a passion for life as well.
These five steps include:
- Rewiring your habits
- Rewiring your attitude
- Rewiring your relationship
- Managing stress
- And balancing hormones
These pills and others like it pretty much only address the hormonal aspect, which in the end, is only part of the puzzle.
I teach women to live a pro-libido lifestyle, which means helping them change their habits. A pro-libido lifestyle means better nutrition, eating whole foods instead of processed foods, eliminating sugars, and taking steps to achieve optimal health and fitness. It means exercising (which causes natural changes in our hormones, like boosting testosterone – our hormone of desire), and it means working on body image and relationship issues.
All of this is much more work, obviously, than simply popping a pill. And that is the appeal to many people – the miracle drug that will take all our problems away without actually doing the work. Sounds too good to be true, right?
That’s because it usually is!
So if a pill is not going to solve all your problems, what can you do to increase your desire?
Rewire your habits
This includes all the things I mentioned above. Better health and nutrition, exercise, getting enough sleep and generally taking care of yourself. You’d be amazed at how far a little self care goes into making you feel better. And when you feel better, your relationships run smoother.
Rewire your Attitude
There’s a significant amount of research that shows that women’s low sexual desire can be attributed to body image problems. For a lot of women, part of this problem can be solved by taking better care of themselves with better health practices.
But rewiring your attitude towards yourself is another big part of body image. Women tend to do a lot of negative self talk, and we need to listen to the messages that we send ourselves. Instead of looking in the mirror and thinking, “I’m not thin enough or pretty enough,” we need to accentuate the positive and focus on the parts of ourselves that we do like and play up those parts, for ourselves and for our partners.
We can also rewire our thoughts to make thinking about sex a new habit. There is plenty of scientific research that shows that thinking about sex can help change our hormone levels and increase our desire for sex. To feel more sexy, we need to think about sex more!
Rewire your relationship
Relationships are obviously essential to the mix. And too many women that I talk to whose libidos decrease over time in a long-term relationship also have relationship problems that go along with that.
Sometimes the relationship problems come from the sexual problems, and sometimes not. But overall, for a lot of women, if they’re not feeling intimacy with their partner, they’re not going to have desire to have sex with their partner. So it’s essential for couples to work on the intimacy in their relationship.
The New York Times article focuses on monogamy as a main source of the problem of desire in a relationship. But you don’t need to be constantly switching partners to experience the thrill of the new – you just have to be more dedicated to what I call “doing the new.” That means bringing novelty and adventure into your relationship. It means making sure that you’re always learning and discovering new things together and about about one another.
Stress management is hugely important to restoring sexual desire in women. High levels of stress cause high levels of cortisol, our stress hormone. And that has been shown to interfere with the way testosterone works in our bodies. If a woman is very stressed out, we can give her all the testosterone under the sun, but it’s not going to necessarily cause the desired result of increased desire. She needs to learn how to manage her stress as well, through good practices that fall in line with a pro-libido regime.
Hormones are a crucial part of desire. And testosterone, as being prescribed in these female-desire drugs, is certainly a part of treating women’s libido issues. But there are many hormones that play an active role in desire, and it’s more about the delicate balance between hormones than just loading up on testosterone.
A properly trained bio-identical hormone specialist can do wonders in terms of increasing desire. But the more you start practicing a pro-libido lifestyle, the more your hormones are going to start balancing themselves! No pill required!
Email me at email@example.com and tell me what you think! I’d love to hear from you.