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Inventing a new disease?
January 3, 2003 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Inventing a new disease? Some experts are saying that the drug industry is trying lump women’s sexual problems under the term “female sexual dysfunction” to create a market for lucrative new Viagra-like drugs. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association [abstract] found sexual dysfunction is more prevalent for women (43%) than men (31%), but the jury is still out.
posted by gottabefunky (54 comments total)

wow this is fascinating reading

About 1500 women were asked to answer yes or no to whether they had experienced any of seven problems, for two months or more, during the previous year, including a lack of desire for sex, anxiety about sexual performance, and difficulties with lubrication. If the women answered yes to just one of the seven questions, they were included in a group characterised as having sexual dysfunction....The JAMA article stated that its data were "not equivalent to clinical diagnosis," yet this caveat is now regularly overlooked, and leading sex researchers have raised serious concerns about the figure's constant misuse. [emphasis mine]

So anxiety about the "disease" actually itself becomes the disease, in the media at least, if not in the doctor's office. A real coup for the pharmaceutical industry, I'm sure.
posted by jessamyn at 10:03 AM on January 3, 2003

Hmm. Why am I not surprised that we didn't hear the same thing when Viagra came on the market, that changes in erectile function are normal with aging and shouldn't be "medicalized" by the greedy drug companies?
posted by transona5 at 10:03 AM on January 3, 2003

Big Pharm invents syndromes to match its products, then markets them to us at a premium? *shocking!* good article, and one of my pet outrages which, luckily, it seems more and more folks are aware of lately, as with last year's HRT scandal. to me the nadir is Sarafem, the long-awaited cure for "pre-menstrual dysmorphic disorder," that scourge of womanhood. actually, it's Prozac, which they decided would be great for PMS too, so they filmed those awful commercials with women being slightly bitchy or tearful and urged them to pop their harmless yellow and green pills to make sure they were nice and happy all month long. GRRRRRRR.
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:05 AM on January 3, 2003

Well, women are very different then men, as you can tell by reading this 50-year-old article:

Why women act that way
posted by hipnerd at 10:07 AM on January 3, 2003

whoops, where i wrote "dysmorphic" it should be "dysphoric." obviously, PMS brings "dysphoria," abnormal/bad feelings, not "dysmorphia," abnormal/bad shape. well....
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:10 AM on January 3, 2003

Just another example of the medicalization of every aspect of life.
posted by riptide at 10:14 AM on January 3, 2003

The best line from the Yahoo article:
"Not all 43% of people are banging down doctors' doors," he said.
Well, I should hope not.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:21 AM on January 3, 2003

I like this one: Fluffy bunnies are used as models for "female sexual dysfunction"
posted by jokeefe at 10:29 AM on January 3, 2003

Wow! Pharmaceutical companies doctoring the results of a study for profit. Hysterical.
posted by newlydead at 10:47 AM on January 3, 2003

My favorite Pharmaceutical hoodwink is Prilosec the acid reflux pill

"The drug stripped misery from the lives of millions and became the world's best-selling prescription drug - and the number one medication prescribed for seniors - taking in $6 billion a year. Prilosec is so good, and patients so attached to it, that doctors jokingly call it 'purple crack.' Boston Globe.

As it turns out 'Reflux' (or any of the other scary sounding names) is nothing more than acid slipping past the junction of the stomach and esophagus. The stomach is designed for it, the esophagus is not...hence a trap door (sphincter) at the intersection (called the GE, or GastroEsophageal junction) set in place to keep the two areas separated. People act like (from propaganda on TV) stomach acid is some kind of mistake on mother nature's part. Here's the kicker: if you 'kill it off' (using antacids, acid blockers, etc.) the body, in its wisdom, saves the energy required to protect the esophagus from the stomach's (normally) more acid environment and weakens the GE sphincter. This allows any remaining acid to sometimes slip past and irritate the esophagus. So, you take an antacid (or whatever...we have so many choices these days) and you feel better, because you lessen even more what little acid remains that has been irritating your already sensitive esophagus. The above association reinforces that you need more antacid next time, since it helps in the short term. So look what's happening - the short term 'fix' assures that the problem will continue (and even worsen).

Is that not the most beautiful trick? The 'cure' assures its own increasing's positively brilliant (and diabolical).
posted by stbalbach at 11:07 AM on January 3, 2003

stbalbach -

Except that acute heartburn really fuckin' hurts! What are we supposed to do? Suck it up (no pun intended)? I try to control my acid reflux/heartburn with diet, but it still gets me sometimes, so I take a Zantac. Are there other treatments?
posted by starvingartist at 11:11 AM on January 3, 2003

So they are making a pill to, ummm, make chicks horny? I wonder if it will be dissolvable and tasteless in drinks. Just wondering.
posted by monkeyman at 11:12 AM on January 3, 2003

stbalbach, i'm not sure i follow your entire explanation, but disregarding that, what else can a person who suffers chronic heartburn and indigestion do? i try not to take prilosec unless i have to (as opposed to just blithely popping one each morning), and i try to adjust my diet when a certain food seems to trigger pain, but there seems to be little dietary consistency in what's going to cause me agony. (and it is agonizing.)

i'd be interested to hear any alternatives that people could suggest, as i've long worried about the long-term effects of prilosec.

on preview, what starvingartist said.
posted by damn yankee at 11:17 AM on January 3, 2003

Pharmaceuticals are all well and good for fixing one's libido, but I'm sure going to miss having men buy me things. Especially jewelry.
posted by padraigin at 11:22 AM on January 3, 2003

Grrr. Fascinating article. It angers me on so many levels. Besides the obvious Big Pharmaceutical angle, and the conflation of occasional sexual disinterest with a medical condition, the idea of trying to ameliorate women's "sexual dysfunction" by dealing solely with the physical symptoms just seems downright (and I don't throw this word around) misogynist. It a)implies that there's something wrong with wanting sex infrequently/less frequently than your partner and b) ignores the elephant in the room, namely that there could be serious psychological/emotional issues behind this "dysfunction."
posted by cowboy_sally at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2003

This malfeasance will ultimately be more destructive on human sexual interaction than the PR storm that was Viagra because a woman's central erogenous zone is located outside of the vaginal canal.

A woman's displeasure with sex is by far more often the result of her sexual partner not being sensitive enough to what a woman needs to get off. The problem isn't female sexual dysfunction -- it's male sexual dysfunction. Tagging this as a disease lets men off way too easy and will only lead to more problems in the sack.
posted by Pinwheel at 11:27 AM on January 3, 2003

on the heartburn sub-thread: a doctor told me I had some esophogeal problem - i hadn't complained about heartburn, etc., but she prescribed prevacid. I took it for 20 days, then stopped. THEN I got heartburn, really bad. While I'm not usually one for "herbal" remedies, I checked around, and found an herbal that works: licorice.

If you get the deglycerrizhed version (often labeled under the acronym DGL), in a chewable form, it can work pretty good. They're chewable, but I recommend sucking on them like a life saver. 2-4 per day for a while, then wean off as symptoms abate. It really does work.
posted by yesster at 11:34 AM on January 3, 2003

there was supposed to be a link in that last post: try this
posted by yesster at 11:34 AM on January 3, 2003

This URL makes me never want to sleep with another webmaster ever again:

much less go there for advice. Note the multitude of overlong URLs in this bizarre set of sites.
posted by jessamyn at 11:37 AM on January 3, 2003

Bah. I don't think it's fair to blame men for the sexual hangups of women. We're not that stupid, and even the ignorant among us are pretty much that way by choice--you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a Cosmo article about how to get what we want in bed. It probably wouldn't hurt if we encouraged our daughters to get some in the same way that fathers cheer on their sons (or is that just in movies?).

I'm willing to agree with the elephant-in-the-room hypothesis and venture that female sexual dysfunction is psychological more often than physical (and that of the male probably is as well, so there), and focusing on the symptoms instead of the root of the problem is going to bite you on the ass every time.

Again, problems that could be solved by jewelry.
posted by padraigin at 11:45 AM on January 3, 2003


My studies indicate that 86% of female sexual dysfunction
is really male dysfunction.
posted by ParisParamus at 11:48 AM on January 3, 2003

People act like (from propaganda on TV) stomach acid is some kind of mistake on mother nature's part.

No, stomach acic in your esophagus is a mistake. It's not supposed to be there, the esophagus doesn't have the mucous protection that the stomach does, and repeated episodes of reflux (whether caused by a weak GE sphincter or hyperproduction of acid or whatever) CAN cause erosion of the esophagus, which can lead to an upper GI bleed, which can lead to death. Could you reference your statement that there's a correlation between reduced stomach acid from antacid use and a weakened GE sphincter? I've never heard of any connection between the two, and I can't think of any way the two could be connected (acid levels do not relate to the sphincter's muscle tone in any way, AFAIK). Over-use of antactids is not a good thing (matabolic alkalosis, inadequate digestion, etc), but neither is chronic pain and an upper GI bleed.

There's a fine line between medication for minor issues, which can make a difference in people's quality of life, and medication for imaginary issues, which can harm people by making them think that the normal is the abnormal ("Social Anxiety Disorder" is another one which springs to mind, where most of the "symptoms" are normal things everyone feels, and there's no disclaimer in the ads for the drugs for it explaining that there's a difference between not liking public speaking and having a panic attack at the thought of it). I also agree with Pinwheel, to a point, but I think women tend to be reluctant to tell men what they want, to take an active role in terms of their own satisfaction. Men aren't mind readers, and often what it takes to bring a man to orgasm is nigh-on orthogonal to, or at least substantially simpler than, what it takes to bring a woman to orgasm, so you can't place all the blame on men, when women often don't explain the differences to make it possible for men to be more effective.
posted by biscotti at 11:48 AM on January 3, 2003

Sexual dysfunction in women exists. You all can chalk this up to "Big Pharm inventing conditions," but this is a reality. Nobody insisted they were inventing male impotence, and to suggest that women don't have a similar problem is sexist and wrong.

There ARE women who, despite being comfortable with a knowledgable partner, cannot achieve proper self-lubrication, or appropriate swelling in the genitals, two very important events for a woman to have satisfying intercourse. There are women who, for one reason or another, cannot achieve an orgasm even with the proper physiological changes in the genitals.

Many women who have had a hysterectomy suffer nerve damage that inhibits a lot of sensation. Don't try and tell me that this is a myth.
posted by rocketman at 12:08 PM on January 3, 2003

This book has a lot of useful information about the many different forms of female sexual dysfunction. I suggest all of you who are player-hatin' the BigPharm check it out.
posted by rocketman at 12:25 PM on January 3, 2003

I really do believe the problem stems mostly from the physiological discrepancies between our sex organs. But that doesn't mean that women need a physiological "cure." Feelings of intimacy enhance the sexual response of both sexes; the awkward positioning of the clitoris just makes that enhancement more neccessary for women than men.

Sexually attentive lovers, both male and female, will eventually begin to talk about what they need in bed. Often, I'd bet, women need better and more oral sex. (This is getting a little graphic, isn't it?)
posted by Pinwheel at 12:27 PM on January 3, 2003

Gotta say I'm with padraigin on this one. Sexual response starts with the brain, guys. Flirt already! And buy me more shiny things.
posted by mimi at 12:29 PM on January 3, 2003

I really do believe the problem stems mostly from the physiological discrepancies between our sex organs

And I really do believe that you are wrong. Not all female orgasms are clitoral.
posted by rocketman at 12:30 PM on January 3, 2003

But more women are more responsive to clitoral stimulation than vaginal. And in my experience, vaginally-stimulated women have sex drives that we culturally call "masculine."
posted by Pinwheel at 12:33 PM on January 3, 2003

So what you are saying, then, is that the problem stems from the physiological discrepancies between your sex organs and the women you prefer.
posted by rocketman at 12:37 PM on January 3, 2003

Yes, rocketman, there are women who have insufficient lubrication (due to menopause or other conditions) and there are women who, post-hysterectomy, suffer nerve damage. No one is insisting that's a myth. But percentage-wise, the problems that are being lumped together with these legitimate conditions as sexual dysfunction are largely psychological.

Whatever the root of the dysfunction (and let's just ignore the fact that prior to this amazing new diagnosis many women might not have found their sexual appetite dysfunctional to begin with), it's not something that can be universally treated with drugs, particularly those drugs that simply function as female Viagra, and that's what's troublesome.

Imagine a man who feels dispassionate about sex--he rarely feels aroused and he can't get an erection. His doctor gives him Viagra and he's able to get hard, but he *still* doesn't desire sex. If you were that man, would you consider your problem solved?

That's how women could potentially be treated with the introduction of these new drugs.
posted by cowboy_sally at 12:38 PM on January 3, 2003

The unsubstantiated opinions and "facts" flowing through this thread make the discussion surrounding a FPP on the rights of arm-bearing, unborn Iraqi fetuses with connections to the North Korean nuclear weapons program and the European left look nuanced, informed, and non-argumentative.

FSD exists. pharmaceutical companies are private concerns with a right to research whatever products they want. Deal with it.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:51 PM on January 3, 2003

Rocketman: Funny; but no, I implied nothing about the women I prefer. Let's be nice now, OK?

I agree with Sally, though my previous comments almost don't suggest that, do they? Let me ask a question though: If there existed some miraculous wonder drug that would eaily give women the most intense orgasms imaginable during every sexual act, do you really think that there would still be very many recipients of this drug who wouldn't desire sex?
posted by Pinwheel at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2003

FSD exists. pharmaceutical companies are private concerns with a right to research whatever products they want. Deal with it.

Thank god pjgulliver is here to sort it out. No more discussion necessary.
posted by Summer at 1:05 PM on January 3, 2003

If there existed some miraculous wonder drug that would eaily give women the most intense orgasms imaginable during every sexual act, do you really think that there would still be very many recipients of this drug who wouldn't desire sex?

That's a good question. I couldn't tell you. I do imagine that there are some women who'd be content to have these mindblowing orgasms on their own. And there are also some women who still enjoy sex despite being anorgasmic.

The plural of anecdote isn't data, however. ;)

The unsubstantiated opinions and "facts" flowing through this thread

Which unsubstantiated facts? That 43% of all women suffer from sexual dysfunction?
posted by cowboy_sally at 1:05 PM on January 3, 2003

("on their own" meaning without their partner being involved)
posted by cowboy_sally at 1:06 PM on January 3, 2003

cowboy_sally: No, were I that man, I would not consider my problem solved. But feeling dispassionate about sex is only one area in a larger group of problems collectively known as sexual dysfunction. I don't think medication holds all the answers, though in some situations I think it can help.

It really upsets me to see such a quick, cynical response in here, though I guess I should expect it. As soon as the question was posed, people were saying the problem was invented by the pharmaceutical industry or just a symptom of lousy male lovers. I reject that, because it's unfair to women.

Men should be attentive to the needs of female partners, just as the pharmaceutical industry should be attentive to a problem they could contribute to fixing. Just as medical doctors should quit shrugging off women's complaints that they can't have pleasurable sex.

Pinwheel: Sorry for reading too much into your prior comment. As to your question, I don't fully understand what you're asking. Are you saying women who took this "wonder" drug would still desire sex, or they would not?
posted by rocketman at 1:11 PM on January 3, 2003

Pinwheel raised the question:
If there existed some miraculous wonder drug that would eaily give women the most intense orgasms imaginable during every sexual act, do you really think that there would still be very many recipients of this drug who wouldn't desire sex?

Not to get too personal and graphic, but I've never had a problem reaching orgasm or having a satisfying experience -- I just don't usually initiate sex, and sometimes actively avoid it. It's not my sexual response that's the problem, it's my sex drive.

My physical responses are normal and just fine & dandy -- my mental response toward sex is the issue. This is a form of FSD -- I'm sure there are multiple reasons and issues in my life that contribute to this problem and that I need to suss out and deal with. In other words, it's a psychological issue, not a physiological problem. If I were ignorant enough, I might believe that these FSD drugs were the miracle solution to my issues. But they wouldn't help. The Viagra example that cowboy_sally used illustrates this point. I think you're looking at it from the wrong angle.
posted by dryad at 1:19 PM on January 3, 2003

I would suggest that almost anyone under the influence of a very powerful, orgasm inducing and enhancing drug would desire sex more -- or rather, that they would desire orgasm more and thaht they would do whatever neccessary to achieve them.

As for the attentiveness of the pharmaceutical industry, let's consider what it means to be attentive to a complicated and vague medical problem. Here's a quote from the article above:

The pharmaceutical industry's role in helping build the science of this new disorder has been "paramount," according to Goldstein, and he rejects suggestions that closeness between drug companies and academic researchers may be inappropriate. Asked whether marketing campaigns worth hundreds of millions of dollars may ultimately tend to amplify particular views of sexual difficulties and promote certain therapeutic options over others, he said: "I'm an academic clinical doctor. That's a question for some philosopher."

The fact that he's not taking this very important question into consideration as part of his decision making process seems to reflect a larger sickness within the industry.

Regardless of whether this drug is right or wrong, or whether it even addresses a real medical syndrome, the people manufacturing the shit will probably have mostly selfish motivations for providing it.
posted by Pinwheel at 1:21 PM on January 3, 2003

But feeling dispassionate about sex is only one area in a larger group of problems collectively known as sexual dysfunction.

Just because these problems have been categorised by somone as such doesn't make it fact. It's just a label.

One of the problems here is that it very hard to measure sex scientifically or medically. You can tell if you have a blocked artery or a tumour, it's pretty obvious if you have chickenpox or measles, but asking if your sex life is 100% as it should be is like asking if someone's happy, and about as treatable. Sex is psychological as well as physiological. Giving sex pills to someone who's bored of her boyfriend makes as much sense as giving happy pills to someone who's lonely.
posted by Summer at 1:22 PM on January 3, 2003

PJ- You are completely missing the point here. No one is disputing that there is a problem, but it is the extent of the problem that is the issue. Pharmaceutical industries grossly exaggerate the number of people who suffer from a condition in order to make more people think they need the cure.
posted by monkeyman at 1:26 PM on January 3, 2003

Summer, no offense meant.

I was trying to point out that whether or not you think these drugs are necessary or effective, they are being developed by private companies, in pursuit of profit. The question as to whether private, profit driven organizations should be tasked with developing medicine is a separate issue than the use of these drugs.

I think there is a genuine concern here that these drugs may be only symptom relief (to a degree) and may mask much deeper-seated psychological problems. In fact, I am convinced of this. I dated someone with depression/psychologically based FSD for a long time. It sucked. Certainly, there is no way that a "happy pill" would have solved this woman's problems. She needed much deeper solutions than that.

But just as the way that antidepressants can help solve physically-caused emotional imbalances, or, help create a baseline of emotional stability which than facilitates deeper psychological healing, drugs that address the physical symptoms of FSD have real potential value. I believe that if the drugs are missused, it is the fault of physicians, not pharmaceutical companies.

I just get offended when everyone saying either 1) its all in their heads or 2) its the men's fault. Come on people.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:26 PM on January 3, 2003

It's not my sexual response that's the problem, it's my sex drive.

I don't mean to get personal dryad, but I don't see not wanting something as a problem. If you wanted sex but couldn't do it, now THAT would be a problem.
posted by Summer at 1:27 PM on January 3, 2003

the pharmaceutical industry should be attentive to a problem they could contribute to fixing

Of course. The question seems to be: how much is the industry reacting to a problem versus how much are they creating the problem in order to sell pills to the problem people? Are a large percentage of the people that the industry claims have this "problem" [an extended dance remix of the actual dysfunctions some women have] just experiencing the ups and downs of a normal sexual life and not in need of medication?

This is what at least one of the links above is claiming, and it seems to me to be a valid assertion based on the way the studies were done [and reported on]. Women with real dysfunction could use help, psychological, pharmacological and/or at home. Some women may just need some lube and a beer, or a nice evening out, or a partner dressed in a chicken suit, or whatever. Lumping these two groups of women together does not help either of them, and that is what the pharmaceutical industry seems to be trying to do.
posted by jessamyn at 1:28 PM on January 3, 2003

Not wanting sex can be a problem summer. Especially if you are in a relationship. Is it a life-threatening problem? No. Will it effect your ability to work, etc? Probably not. Will it substantially effect the way you relate to other people and the type of potential relationships you can engage in? Definately.
posted by pjgulliver at 1:29 PM on January 3, 2003

I just get offended when everyone saying either 1) its all in their heads or 2) its the men's fault. Come on people.

There are many, many, many reasons why peoples' sex lives aren't what they should be, for both men and women. Sexuality is only sketchily understood. That's my problem with labels and also my problem with medication.

I believe that if the drugs are missused, it is the fault of physicians, not pharmaceutical companies.

Not completely. The drug companies have a responsibility to market their products responsibly, both to the doctors and the patients. They musn't make claims that aren't true and I think that's the issue here - the marketing, not the existence of the drugs.
posted by Summer at 1:37 PM on January 3, 2003

Not wanting sex can be a problem summer.

Somebody else's problem. I'm being facetious, ignore me.
posted by Summer at 1:39 PM on January 3, 2003

I pretty much agree with you, jessamyn. I think it's safe to say that 43% of women are suffering from some deficiency in their sex lives.

I would hope we can also agree that FSD exists, that the pharmaceutical companies did not invent it, and that relief can be sought through therapy or medication or both. I'd hope physicians would be more attentive to this, so we could get better data.
posted by rocketman at 1:40 PM on January 3, 2003

Another problem I have is with the word dysfunction. Like there's a normal or average way to have sex. There isn't. It's a messy, dangerous, unreliable, silly business and if it didn't feel so good no-one would bother with it.
posted by Summer at 1:42 PM on January 3, 2003

On the subject of acid-reflux.. here's one solution. Below is quoted from an e-mail by Dr. Allan Spreen but you should be able to Google more info on this approach.

The solution is ridiculously simple (and cheap). Using readily available acidophilus and digestive enzymes I stop over 2/3 of all cases. The more difficult cases (that may include overt ulcers, etc.) may involve a more aggressive approach, but omitting really serious GI illness the results are nearly always extremely positive.

Acidophilus supplements (powder form, the liquid tastes awful) protect the esophagus without killing acid (while killing the pain almost immediately). The hassle is, you have to keep it handy and take it often if you don't solve the whole problem, which involves tightening the GE sphincter. That can be done using the English herbs (Potter's Acidosis) or by improving the environment of the stomach, which then tightens the junction on its own but requires a bit more effort.

When the stomach is low on acid it tends to also be low on digestive enzymes. Believe it or not, the solution (along with acidophilus protection) is to ADD acid and digestive enzymes at the same time. Remember, it isn't acid that's the problem (you need it desperately for digestion); it's acid reaching the esophagus. Proper digestion allows for higher concentration of acid while tightening the GE junction and protecting the esophagus. I do that using Super Enzymes by TwinLab, two capsules at mid-meal. I hate to push just one company, but it's one of the few enzymes that includes betaine hydrochloride, a plant based form of acid like what's in the stomach (you hope) - plus it's available everywhere. I'm sure there are others.

A trick with acidophilus capsules is that, with reflux, you must open the capsule and let the saliva carry it down the throat to the stomach. Dose is no problem, as the supplement represents a sample of the billions of 'good guy' bacteria that you want in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract (and in which most people are woefully deficient). Look for caps measuring at least 1 billion (with a 'B') cfu (colony forming units).

Occasionally the combo of acidophilus and digestive enzymes isn't enough (that's uncommon), or there is actual stomach trouble from low acid (the stomach's defenses weaken over time, too, with decreased acid, such that irritation there can form and progress to an ulcer...see how these things are connected?). Then, I add DGL, a form of licorice that has one component removed (DGL means De-Glycerrhizinated Licorice). I use Enzymatic Therapy brand but there are other good ones. Chewing or sucking on one 20 minutes before eating can be very helpful in difficult cases. Avoiding refined sugar and white flour products also seems to help.

The Potter's solution can be very effective; just bear in mind that it is a 'fix' that does not repair the altered state of the gastric environment.

Killing off acid, however it's done, is a serious mistake with long term consequences if pursued over time. Poor digestion is the genesis of all sorts of problems, in my opinion...but that's just me.

Good Health,
Allan Spreen, MD
posted by stbalbach at 1:43 PM on January 3, 2003

With millions of humans in this metropolitian area alone, I'd say the evidence that females are functioning sexually is overwhelming. Suggesting that 43% of women ought to be drugged from time to time because they aren't enjoying their sex lives enough is the sort of logic you hear from ... well, we all know who thinks like that!
posted by sheauga at 4:17 PM on January 3, 2003

Please Sheauga. No one possibly suggested that 43% of woman should be drugged. Don't be inane.
posted by pjgulliver at 4:25 PM on January 3, 2003

I think it's safe to say that 43% of women are suffering from some deficiency in their sex lives.

These seems as much a fantasy as the idea that the other 57% of women are having perfectly realized sex lives. I don't think that anyone does, all the time, and that all these vagaries are part of being human. As jessamyn said, some women just need a night out, and a beer; and I bet you could find a big overlap between the women who might have reported 'sexual dysfunction' and those who have small children and are exhausted (I speak from experience) and would rather sleep, (or who are angry at other perceived inequities in the relationship). I can tell you that if you do have small children, the most erotic thing in the world can be the prospect of night's uninterrupted sleep, and sex just feels like another demand that someone wants you to satisfy. This is not a physical problem, it hardly needs to be said, and the last thing it requires is medication.

This discussion has reminded me, at times, of that scene in Margaret Atwood's Surfacing where a male character is hitting on the narrator, and she remarks that he would have been satisfied if their genitals had detatched from their bodies and copulated in mid air. You can't remove sex from its emotional and psychological context.
posted by jokeefe at 5:01 PM on January 3, 2003

This thread angers me in that it just reminds me how much women have been neglected in medical research altogether. Women are typically not included as test subjects(unless it involves female specific disorders) because of the fluctuating hormones. Medication dosages etc are therefore skewed towards the needs of men. Because men dominate the medical industry their needs and complaints have always been taken more seriously. In fact if a male has abdominal surgery, the surgeon will take extreme care to avoid damaging any nerves or blood vessels that might interfere with the man's ability to enjoy sex. Such measures are not taken and female sexual function is not a consideration when they undergo abdominal surgery (the often abused hysterectomies for example) regardless of the fact that females also require intact nerves and blood supply to support normal sexual function. If one considers how many women have undergone unnecessary hysterectomies over the years, its not unreasonable to imagine how many women might benefit from pharmacological help. Sure there are many women who are anorgasmic and the majority of those are psychological in nature, owing to physical abuse and the notion that some women have that their bodies are "dirty".
Like Viagra, if the problem is in fact psychological, medical treatment will simply not work. But why continue the sexist hypocrisy by subscribing to the idea that women's sexual needs are not as important as a man's therefore the pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing a disorder?If 43% of women are dissatisfied with the quality of their sex life what is wrong with letting them try a drug that may help? I do not believe that all of them are in their head or due to inadequacies of their lovers.
posted by SweetIceT at 10:41 PM on January 3, 2003

Sexual dysfunction in women exists. You all can chalk this up to "Big Pharm inventing conditions," but this is a reality. Nobody insisted they were inventing male impotence, and to suggest that women don't have a similar problem is sexist and wrong.

True, but I find it difficult to believe that 40% of the female population is "dysfunctional" as claimed. About the time that a "disease" claims almost half of the population is about the time to rethink whether it is a disease at all. Should we develop a pill for below-average intelligence. Huge market, 50% of the population!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:48 PM on January 4, 2003

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