Viagra, Levitra and Cialis have become household names. That’s because the manufacturers of these drugs broke the taboos against discussing erectile dysfunction in public.
Turn on the television and you may see provocative ads touting the benefit of these medications for men. A sexy-looking woman with a sly smile confides that her guy has improved his erection quality and increased his desire to “do this more often.”
But the ads don’t address another common sexual problem. Millions of women are not interested in “doing this more often.” Many don’t seem pleased that their male partners are now raring to go. Female sexual dysfunction has not received the degree of attention that impotence has.
Sexual problems in women may be difficult to study, but some researchers are finding that many medicines women take can have an inhibiting effect on sexual desire or pleasure.
We heard recently from one reader who responded to a letter asking if birth control pills can lower a woman’s libido: “In my experience, the answer to this question is a definite YES! Birth control pills greatly reduce libido.
“I am 41 years old and have taken oral contraceptives on and off since my late teens. Looking back, I realize that the pill definitely reduced my sex drive.
“When I was younger, the effect was subtle, so I assumed my dwindling desire was due to my situation. As I became older, the effects of the hormones became more pronounced and had an even greater impact on my sexual health.
“I stopped taking BC pills after I divorced in my mid 20’s, then started on them again when I remarried in my 30’s. Suddenly, I was unable to have an orgasm and stopped initiating sex with my new husband. (I greatly desired him in my mind, but my body just wasn’t interested!)
“Perhaps because I was older and more in tune with my body, I suspected that the pills were to blame and decided to stop taking them to see if that made any difference. Within a week, my sex drive returned in full force! We just celebrated our 5-year anniversary and I enjoy sex more than ever, pill free.
“It amazes me that most women are not aware of this side effect. So many husbands complain that their wives are not interested in sex after marriage. I wonder if the pill is to blame in many of these situations.
“I hope other couples will benefit from my experience. It is not normal for an otherwise healthy woman to lose her desire for sex. Although psychological, emotional or situational issues can affect libido, the problem is not necessarily ‘all in our head.’ It may be in our pill pack.”
One of the country’s leading experts on female sexuality, Dr. Irwin Goldstein of Boston University, agrees that oral contraceptives can diminish desire in some women. He discussed this and issues such as hormonal tests and treatments in an hour-long interview on our radio show. To obtain our Guide to Female Sexuality and a CD of this in-depth discussion with Dr. Goldstein, please send $17 to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy; Dept. CDZ-506; P. O. Box 52027; Durham, NC 27717-2027.
With all of the new drugs for erectile dysfunction, couples may discover that female sexuality deserves attention, too.