Both drugs have a peppermint-flavored testosterone coating that melts in the mouth. When the exterior is gone, the woman swallows a delayed-release inner tablet. In Lybrido, this inner pill is a close cousin of Viagra. The idea is that the Viagra-like molecule, by making extra blood flow to the genitals and adding to swelling and sensation, will work in conjunction with the testosterone. Together they will stir the mind to be more aware of erotic impulses; together they will help spark dopamine networks. Lybridos uses a compound called buspirone instead of the Viagra-like substance. Buspirone was originally used as an anti-anxiety medication, and if taken every day it can elevate serotonin in the brain. But as long as it’s taken no more than every other day, it has a unique short-term effect: for a few hours, serotonin is suppressed.
When Tuiten, a disheveled, youthful 58-year-old, told me the story of how he conceived of Lybrido and Lybridos, there was something sad and funny and metaphorically perfect about it — it was a tale of scientific ingenuity stemming from a young man’s broken heart. Tuiten was in his mid-20s when his girlfriend, a woman he’d been in love with since he was 13, abruptly decided to leave him. “I was — flabbergasted. You can say that?” he asked me, making sure, in his choppy English, that he was using the right word. “I was shocked. I was suffering.” He was an older university student at the time; before that, he’d been a furniture maker. The breakup inspired a lifelong quest to comprehend female emotion through biochemistry and led to his career as a psychopharmacologist. “I’m a little bit — not insane,” Tuiten said. “But. There became a need for me to understand my personal life in this way.”
Over the last decade, as companies chased after an effective chemical, there was fretting within the drug industry: what if, in trials, a medicine proved too effective? More than one adviser to the industry told me that companies worried about the prospect that their study results would be too strong, that the F.D.A. would reject an application out of concern that a chemical would lead to female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity, societal splintering.
“You want your effects to be good but not too good,” Andrew Goldstein, who is conducting the study in Washington, told me. “There was a lot of discussion about it by the experts in the room,” he said, recalling his involvement with the development of Flibanserin, “the need to show that you’re not turning women into nymphomaniacs.” He was still a bit stunned by the entrenched mores that lay within what he’d heard. “There’s a bias against — a fear of creating the sexually aggressive woman.”
This interplay of experience and neural pathways is widely known as neuroplasticity. The brain is ever altering. And it is neuroplasticity that may help explain why hypoactive sexual desire disorder is a mostly female condition, why it seems that women, more than men, lose interest in having sex with their long-term partners. If boys and men tend to take in messages that manhood is defined by sex and power, and those messages encourage them to think about sex often, then those neural networks associated with desire will be regularly activated and will become stronger over time. If women, generally speaking, learn other lessons, that sexual desire and expression are not necessarily positive, and if therefore they don’t think as much about sex, then those same neural networks will be less stimulated and comparatively weak. The more robust the neural pathways of eros, the more prone you are to feel lust at home, even as stimuli dissipate with familiarity and habit.
Gaining control of their reproduction in the ‘60s affected not just women’s sex lives but also everything from their social standing to economic empowerment. What might it mean for conventional structures if women could control, with a prescription, the most primal urge? So many things, personal and cultural, might need to be recalibrated and renegotiated, explicitly or without acknowledgment. The cumulative effect of all those negotiations could be hugely transformative, in ways either thrilling or threatening, depending on your point of view.
For a sizable segment of the undesiring, the most common antidepressants, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can be the culprit. Millions of American women are on S.S.R.I.'s, and many of them would have good use for a pill to revive the libido that has been chemically dulled as a side effect of the pill they take to buoy their mood.
Like, seriously, if you're worried about people being manipulated by advertising and media pressure — you know what makes someone really susceptible to that shit? A persistent psychological or physiological inability to meet their own social, emotional and sexual needs. If we can cure that, we're not commodifying happiness and desire — we're fighting the conditions of deprivation that make the commodification of happiness and desire possible in the first place.
Both drugs have a peppermint-flavored testosterone coating that melts in the mouth. When the exterior is gone, the woman swallows a delayed-release inner tablet. In Lybrido, this inner pill is a close cousin of Viagra. ...
compartment [quoting the NYTimes]: Buspirone was originally used as an anti-anxiety medication, and if taken every day it can elevate serotonin in the brain. But as long as it’s taken no more than every other day, it has a unique short-term effect: for a few hours, serotonin is suppressed.
nickrussell: If women's sexual problems are mental, then wouldn't it stand to reason that women's actual sexual problem is that men aren't attractive enough?
not that girl: Interesting that one component of one of the pills is buspirone. I take that daily, as it can help alleviate the sexual side effects of SSRIs (I take Effexor for chronic daily headache, though it has also done wonders for menstrual-cycle-related mood swings and anxiety). On buspar, I am having the best sex of my life, and more of it than ever. But the Effexor means I still can't usually come. That's what I want a solution for--not arousal, but the ability to have orgasms. Viagra helps some people on Effexor but I haven't tried it yet.
cccorlew: I don't understand why, if you don't want to do something you'd even consider taking a drug that would make you want to do it.
Justinian: You can absolutely potentially make someone, man or woman, act in all kinds of ways by messing with their neurotransmitter levels. Including sexually. That's a fact.
Justinian: Citation needed.
Miraplex: Impulse control/Compulsive behaviors: Patients may experience compulsive behaviors and other intense urges [...] Case reports and the results of a cross-sectional study suggest that patients can experience intense urges to gamble, increased sexual urges, intense urges to spend money uncontrollably, binge eating, and/or other intense urges and the inability to control these urges
More? Or is that sufficient?
What's really fascinating is that with this shift in understanding comes a profound shift in how we as a society are deciding to respond. There will be no shrugging of the shoulders and tossing around the word "hard-wired" to rationalize women disappointing male expectations of passionate monogamous sex. Instead, as Bergner writes, a ton of money is being spent on developing a drug women can take to restore their desire for their husbands. The drug, called Lybrido, is in clinical trials now with the hope of writing an FDA application by the end of the year.
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