A man walks into the doctor’s office and says, “Doctor, I can’t pee anymore.”
The doctor asks, “How old are you?”
The man says, “Seventy-nine.”
The doctor says, “You’ve peed enough.”
That’s the way a lot of women I know feel about sex. Let’s do the math: If you’re fifty-five-years-old and you started having sex at age fifteen (slut!), and you averaged three sexual encounters a week, by now you’d have had sex about 4,372,412.323 times. At least according to my calculations. That’s a whole lot of sex. And, since by now most of us have nearly survived launching our children into adulthood while simultaneously mastering the intricacies of feeding our parents their gruel in the nursing home, we might be justifiably fatigued.
That’s where the little pink pill comes in. Invented by men, for men, marketed to women who feel guilty about not having enough sex with their men, we now have a drug that promises to help very few of us enjoy one-half to one additional “satisfying sexual event” per month over what we might experience by taking a placebo, or sugar pill. Wow! How life-altering is that? Hold on, it gets better: According to the manufacturer, a woman’s satisfying sexual event, by their definition, does not necessarily involve an orgasm or a partner. Funny, my definition of satisfying is somewhat different.
Generic name: Flibanserin (that’s the best you could do?). Brand name: Addyi (prounced ADD-ee). Street name: “Little pink pill” or “Viagra for women.” After failing twice to get FDA approval, it just hit the pharmaceutical shelves on Saturday, October 17th. I didn’t notice a stampede in my local drugstore, did you?
Addyi is supposed to treat hypoactive sexual desire in premenopausal women, otherwise known as “I’d rather tweeze my last eyebrow or wax my nethers than have sex with you.” Explained even more simply, Addyi treats a woman’s persistent lack of sexual desire that causes her (husband) personal distress. Sex experts contend that this condition affects one in ten women. I contend that the other 9.5 are lying and they don’t really want to have sex with their husbands either. But let’s not quibble about statistics.
You take one Addyi each night before bed. Yes, another ritual to add to our evening schedule of tidying, flossing, brushing, plucking, exfoliating, texting and charging our twenty-three personal electronic devices. The little pink pill targets a woman’s brain, unlike Viagra which targets a man’s genitals. Does that tell us anything we didn’t already know about gender differences? The medication increases chemicals, including dopamine, which are related to appetite and desire. But I know for a fact that my dopamine surges, no pill needed, when my husband buys me a new car, volunteers to take out the trash or suggests a Caribbean vacation in February. And I just heard from one friend who took her little pink pill and experienced an uncontrollable desire for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Which brings us to other Addyi side effects: While you may be lucky enough to be among the ten percent of women who enjoy one-half an additional “satisfying sexual event” a month, you may also experience drowsiness, low blood pressure, fainting, nausea and dizziness. Good times! In one study, a woman fainted while taking Addyi, hit her head and suffered a concussion. Her husband reported that he had the most satisfying sexual event with her immediately thereafter.
I haven’t gotten to the bad news yet! The FDA has issued a stern warning that women should never consume alcohol while taking Addyi as it can cause sudden fainting. But that really only affects those women who like to drink, drive automobiles, ride bicycles, or get out of bed. Of course, tests on alcohol’s interaction with Addyi were only conducted on twenty-five subjects, twenty-three of whom were men. Gee, that’s a surprise. In addition, if you find your partner repulsive or if sex is physically uncomfortable, that’s out of the little pink pill’s jurisdiction. Better to place the bag over his head and stock up on the lubricant.
But advocates of Addyi assert that while men have both Viagra and Cialis to help them, women had only well-worn photos of Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Gosling to help combat waning libido. Unfair! So here we are, forced to choose between taking the little pink pill and giving up our little pink drinks at the bar. I’m wondering if researchers have studied the effects of icy-cold cosmopolitans on women’s libidos? They work pretty well on me.
The market for Addyi is projected to be worth over $2 billion based on estimates that between five and nine million women suffer from desire disorders. The little pink pill could generate sales of $200 million annually for the pharmaceutical company that produces it.
I’ve given a lot of thought to the idea of adding Addyi to my menu of sexual enhancements. But I decided to say Addyi-os to the little pink pill and hello to another cosmo as I belly up to the bar. How about you?