The Magic Pill For Women’s Sexual Desire, Part One
A client sent me a New York Times article called, “There May Be A Pill For That: The pharmaceutical quest to give women a better sex life.” by Daniel Bergner. It details the most common example of female sexual dysfunction and how an experimental drug called by one of two names: Lybrido and Lybridos can chemically trigger sexual desire in women. I read the article from start to finish and plan to do a two-part blog post on it. Here’s what I think so far:
The article was built around the info and feedback from the human trials participants. Their back-stories and changes after taking Lybrido/Lybridos or a placebo. The first woman was 44 and had been married for a decade at least and was back at The Center For Sexual Medicine in Baltimore, MD giving data after her use of the pill she’d been given.
She hadn’t noticed a difference in her desire levels. Meaning, her urge to have sex. Whether or not she ever felt “horny” at any point during the trial and if she felt thus particularly after taking the pill. Her back-story was she felt excited to get her man home when they were dating and soon after getting married, but with the intro of at least two kids, things started to change. She reports always having orgasms with her husband when they did have sex, but the hunger to have sex, the lust, was no longer present. She took home another set of pills after her debriefing and hoped these were the real ones and that they’d work.
This case is of note because many heterosexual women site lack of orgasm or unreliable orgasm (but their partners often getting theirs’) as one reason why they lose interest in sex or regular sex. They see the men having orgasms and his sexual enjoyment maximized every time, but the women don’t get the same results. At which point, the most common version of “fun in bed is had by men” comes to the fore. It’s common sense at that point. Why would the person who gets the least out of a “fun” exchange stay as motivated and interested in that activity be it sex or anything else? This among other fundamental issues is what sex life coaching addresses.
However, the woman in this first case reported consistent orgasms. What I’ve and others have found is both women and men can have a consistently orgasmic sexual exchange, but the path to get there is always the same and eventually the mind gets bored with the trip there. I have clients who are not sexual beginners who come to me interested in the more advanced methods and new ways of enjoying what they can already do. This is skill-based vs pharmaceutical-based improvement of the quality of a sex life.
The pill triggers desire (horny) for sex/intercourse. The article goes on to describe a women for whom her set of pills worked. She went from sex once a week or less to five times a week, which as she reported, was well-received by her husband (obviously). She did feel the urge to “get f**ked.” It arose from within her and she felt in the mood. She did not feel this way once the drug wore off. She didn’t feel the urge to have sex with her husband due to anything on his part. It was simply the urge to mate. Much like what she feels/felt during ovulation and the human female’s sort of mini-estrus, or in an animal, being in heat.
So you may ask, “Is that it? Sex problems have been solved by another magic pill? Who needs sex life coaching? On to solving world hunger!” No, it’s not that simple. Yes, it produces desire in her, but there’s more to amazing sex than being horny and having an able-bodied male around. Much more. Even though the women in this study don’t live that reality, there are plenty of other women who do and would wholeheartedly agree with me.
The pill will improve things to one extent or the other in the short term, but once it’s a part of life, smart women will once again not be able to help but re-evaluate where they are now on the How-Does-Sex-Serve-Me scale. They’ll see he’s happier, has what he wants (more sex and a woman who wants it via a pill), and her body now responds appropriately to facilitate that, but another issue among several will not have been addressed: long-term attraction to her partner. The article goes on to mention how it’s women who are the ones who, according to one study in one locale anyway, get tired of having sex with their husbands more so and sooner than the hubbies do with their wives.
Those women will then start to feel like he’s begging her to take the lust pill so he can have sex with her. Sex is still serving him the most. Then we’re back to square one. What will make her feel attraction to him? Want to have sex with him in the long term? You can’t put that into a pill. Will she just use her Lybrido on a new extra-marital flame and deny her husband the power of the magic drug? That’s where what you learn in sex life coaching comes in. Human brains crave variety in sex partners and/or activity. If she’s to be monogamous, she must have a broader menu of pleasures to access with her husband. Not just feeling horny.
Another issue among the several I mentioned is the quality issue. Even with the pill, what is the quality of the sex like for her? If the two of them are good in bed, or as I would say it, sufficiently sexually sophisticated at present, then the desire issue may be all that’s needed… for now. If the sexual skill sets (that determine how good things feel, how hot things are mentally, orgasm frequency, strength, and variety, excitement with what you’re doing, etc) are limited, then will sex be relegated to deciding to take a pill to scratch an itch? What about the motivation to take the pill in the first place? That’s another thing that cannot be chemically-induced.
You can’t create the respect and awe you have for your shared sex life with someone unless you share sexual sophistication with that partner to one extent or another. The brain will always get tired of patterns, lust pill or not. The awareness of an imbalance in sex enjoyment will always make women resent men who are not doing more for them in bed. It would be like giving an aggression-inducing drug to a 90 pound weakling thinking they’ll be able to be a star linebacker. Other things are required for stardom than just will and moxy. The same applies to what hot sophisticated sex does for a relationship. The appreciation of each other, the excitement to be with him/her, the “I can’t wait till I get do do this, and that, then more of that and have X number of huge orgasms with my studly man/luscious woman, tonight.” All of that is more rich multi-dimensional than her being horny.
On a side note, the article lists women in the study reporting orgasms during sex where there were none before. Be careful with that reading. This could simply be the same triggering as when, during ovulation, women have easier and/or better orgasms than at other times of her cycle. Also, people in our culture get very excited when the prospect of penis-induced “vaginal orgasms” are put on the table because of all the relationship/ego politics and mentally-hot/romantic things that surround that scenario. The article said orgasms during sex. Is that intercourse? Or do they mean during the sex session i.e. she can orgasm better or easier from him giving her oral or manual clitoral stimulation? Having an eye to that clarity makes a big difference when making decisions about the course of your sex life and expectations of what is possible with each woman’s individual body now and in the future should she be actively working on new orgasm skills. In other words, we all must become as scrutinizing about sex information we read as we are when we invest on the stock market, research the purchase of a new car, or the deliberation we spend on which shade of pink/blue goes best in the nursery.
Furthermore, there are different categories for lack of desire for sex and sometimes it’s not about the urge for sex. I.e the urge to feel a penis moving inside them along with other things that comes along with it. The urge to have sex for the sake of the pleasure of it, which satiates that urge. Satisfies her, as they say in times past. Did you satisfy her? It doesn’t always have to do with her having an orgasm. What is satisfaction in this case? Is it intercoursing long enough or hard enough to trigger that satisfied feeling? Then there are those who define satisfaction as at least one orgasm for her and a resolution of her hunger for intercourse. There are more variations of course. It’s good to know that when lack of desire is defined, one must figure out which form it’s taking. Lybrido, if I’m not mistaken, was reported to give some women their urge until the drug’s effects wore off.
To conclude part one, the studies that show women’s interest in their partners plummeting are a great example of how sexology, the scientific study of sex, works in real time, but not always to our best understanding of human sexual capability. It’s a microscope that accurately depicts the situation as it is at present and in the case of that which is focused upon. The biggest mistake made by those who read sexology stats is they assume the stats are “the way things are for everyone” and that there’s no other possibility for an alternative. The sexology microscope is accurate. It is showing what’s in front of it.
Now, imagine what that microscope would show if it peered down at a couple with a level of sexual sophistication much higher than the national average, so to speak. These realities do exist even though the science lens is not currently peering down upon them. Then, after you’re done imagining that, sit back and imagine what sex would be like for a couple who had both Lybrido and sexual sophistication.